News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Retiring SHS teacher plans reunion for guitar builders

Since 2005, Tony Cosby has directed hundreds of Sisters High School students through the detailed process of building their own guitars. As he eases into his last year of teaching the class on his way to full retirement, Cosby has come up with a plan to bring his former students together for a reunion.

A reunion for students from over all the years is scheduled to take place on Sunday, October 17 at the Sisters Artworks building from 4 to 7 p.m.

Cosby sees it as a way to celebrate the program, the relationships that were formed in the process, and as a perfect way to close out this chapter of his professional life.

According to Cosby, the guitar-building class was created after Cosby met Jayson Bowerman of Breedlove Guitars during a river clean-up activity. The two started talking and before long the brainstorm became a plan and soon the plan became a reality.

“Both of us think it was our own idea,” said Cosby, laughing. “Seriously, Jayson deserves a ton of credit because without him none of this would ever have taken hold.”

The Sisters Folk Festival has been a supporter of the program from the outset as well, along with the many adult volunteers who have stepped in to help over the years.

“Sisters turned out to be the perfect community for something like this to happen,” said Cosby. “The enthusiasm, the focus on the arts, the support for experiential learning all came together to make this program what it is today.”

Cosby explained that, because it takes the better part of a school year to complete a guitar, he and the students, as well as the volunteers, really got to know one another through the process.

“We did a lot of connecting and problem-solving together so I think a lot of friendships developed among the students and myself,” he said.

With so many former students stretching over 17 years of the program, Cosby has found it challenging to get the word out to everyone who built a guitar. He is working through contact lists from each year of the program and decided to expand his efforts through an article in The Nugget.

“I would like as many people to come as possible,” said Cosby. “I look forward to hearing about what all these ‘kids’ are doing nowadays, but I am not hearing back from very many of the former students yet. I will keep chipping away.”

He has sent out an electronic “e-vite” to as many contacts from the list as he has been able to find, but he has not yet contacted directly the majority of the former students. He hopes to further spread the word among locals who know people who built a guitar in the program through this article.

“I get that a lot of those former students no longer live in the area, but this is such a tight-knit community, I hope that others will help me get the word out when they see this story,” he said.

“We want to get ready ahead of time on how many people to expect,” said Cosby. “I want every single person who was part of the program to have the opportunity to be there.”

Cosby officially retired at the end of last year, but signed on to do one more year with the luthier program as a transition to a new teacher, Jason Chinchen, who is taking over the other career/technical classes that Cosby has also taught over the years.

“We will be working closely together to make the transition as seamless as possible,” said Cosby.

Food carts and music will be featured at the event.

To view the invitation and RSVP to the event, visit http:// href="" target="_blank">

Contact Cosby directly by phone at 541-410-1018 or email [email protected]


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