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Oregon Governor Kate Brown paid a recent visit to Sisters High School to learn about the school’s unique, hands-on approach to learning and its vital relationships with community partners.

The school has several very successful programs that are made possible through partnerships with local businesses, individuals and clubs. The programs all integrate a focus on STEAM – Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math – crucial elements to prepare students for 21st century jobs.

Gov. Brown toured the Luthier program where students learn to build custom guitars and ukuleles using CAD – computer assisted design. She also learned about the Americana program where students can learn to play their newly constructed instruments.

“I was really blown away by the students’ work, their creativity, the engineering skills, the problem solving skills that they are using to (build these instruments),” Brown told KTVZ.

The Luthier program is a partnership between the school district, Breedlove Guitars and the Sisters Folk Festival.

The governor also toured the Flight Sciences program where students are able to learn to fly and earn a pilot’s license even before they graduate. Volunteer pilots teach students about aviation. The program is co-sponsored by ENERGYeering Solutions, the school district and Sisters Science Club.

In addition, the school is constructing a greenhouse, also in partnership with the Science Club as well as Sisters’ Kiwanis. The greenhouse teaches students about agriculture and provides fresh food as well.

In an era of budget cuts and shrinking enrollment, unique programs that succeed are usually joint partnerships between a school and its surrounding community. The governor was interested in touring Sisters to see first hand how these community partnership programs are making a difference and can serve as role models for other Oregon school districts.

Sisters School District Superintendent Curtiss Scholl told KTVZ that none of the Sisters programs would be possible with out community partnerships.

“With out that support, we wouldn’t be able to offer these great science-connected options,” Scholl said.