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home : education : schools May 24, 2016

6/17/2014 1:38:00 PM
Bill Rexford says good-bye to Sisters
Bill Rexford built a strong history program and a strong lacrosse program during a decade in Sisters. photo provided
+ click to enlarge
Bill Rexford built a strong history program and a strong lacrosse program during a decade in Sisters. photo provided

By Rongi Yost

Bill Rexford rolled into Sisters 10 years ago to teach history at Sisters High School (SHS), and immediately became a part of the Sisters community. Rexford has loved his time in Sisters, but says it's time to move on.

Rexford told The Nugget that when he moved to Sisters one of the first people he met was Kevin Dyer, who told him that Sisters is a small town and what you do will be remembered. That statement proved true, as Rexford definitely left his mark, as a teacher, coach, mentor and friend.

This year, Rexford wrapped up his 10th year as a history teacher as SHS. Three of those years Bill worked half-time, and the other half he worked for ESD, as the project director of Teach American History, a grant-funded program, where he worked closely with history teachers throughout Central Oregon.

In addition to teaching, Rexford introduced the community to a brand-new sport: lacrosse. Bill approached Tom Coffield (at that time the director of SOAR) and told him he wanted to start lacrosse in Sisters. Coffield helped get the program off the ground, and the rest is history.

The lacrosse program has exploded since its inception a decade ago. Rexford started with 14 high school boys, and it has grown to approximately 200 kids, boys and girls, first grade through high school.

"Key people helped get the program going," said Rexford. "Bob Macauley (former SHS principal) was one of the biggest fans at the start and set the tone for co-operation. And of course Andrew (Gorayeb), who came on board two years later. When Andrew came on we went from a program with good intentions to one that had structure, a philosophy, and was sustained."

Rexford took those 14 high school boys and built a program to be reckoned with. Sisters, along with Harney County and Oregon Episcopal School, are the three smallest schools in the state that play lacrosse, and Sisters has continually competed with the 5A and 6A schools.

"It's a testament to the town," said Rexford. "The parents and coaches work so hard for their programs, and I mean all the coaches in every sport."

As Rexford reflected back on his time in Sisters he said, "I was busy: busy coaching, busy being a dad, and busy running the grant."

People from all over town and beyond have flooded Rexford with words of thanks and appreciation for all his contributions.

Rexford said, "The best parts of life are things you can't predict, like being that guy that parents go to to bring a eulogy for their kid (Stephen Connolly). That's not in anyone's aspirations, and I never want to do it again, but it changed who I am as a teacher, and a coach. It brought home that what we do matters every day."

Rexford and his family will say good-bye to Sisters as they head for the East Coast on Friday, June 20. The family is headed to Danbury, Connecticut, and Rexford will begin his new teaching job in the fall. Rexford will teach at Wooster, a small private school of approximately 400 students, kindergarten through high school, all in one building.

The big draw for Rexford was to be closer his parents and his college buddies. As the move date approaches, Bill admitted he didn't get to complete his Oregon-to-do list.

"I'm not even close to completing my list," said Rexford. "I need more time in the mountains with friends, more time at Suttle Lake with the kids, and I never did catch a fish out of the Metolius."

Rexford shared what he's seen change the most over the last decade and what he'll miss.

"The biggest change I've seen is the aspirations post-Sisters high school students have," said Rexford. "Their targets are among the very best."

Through teary eyes he said, "What I'm going to miss the most is everyone knowing my kids." And with a grin he added, "I'm going to miss getting a front-row parking space at Ray's. That's not going to happen in the East."

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