Jessica Dunn (left) and Lydia Bartlett (right) were among the performers at the Americana Project assembly at Sisters High School. photo by Chloe Gold
Jessica Dunn (left) and Lydia Bartlett (right) were among the performers at the Americana Project assembly at Sisters High School. photo by Chloe Gold
The Americana Project assembly was a spectacle enjoyed by performers, students, and teachers alike on Tuesday, February 25, at Sisters High School.

Over the past few weeks, Sisters High School teacher Rick Johnson, Brad Tisdel and Dave Elhe of Sisters Folk Festival, and students of the Americana Project worked as a team to put together an assembly that Tisdel described as “a testament to the talent and dedication of young artists at Sisters High School.”

Tisdel also noted that, “The program, as a collaboration between Sisters Folk Festival and Sisters School District, has been providing opportunities for self-expression, creativity, songwriting, recording and performing for young people for 20 years.”

About two weeks prior to the assembly, students in the class auditioned in front of Tisdel, Johnson, and singer/songwriter Beth Wood. Once added to the performer list, students worked with Wood on a variety of skills like harmonizing and dynamics, in order to make their songs the best they could be.

The day prior to the assembly, Tyler Cranor’s music tech class helped sound check the performers, a task that involves making sure every instrument is plugged in, and that everyone can be heard equally during their performance.

In all, 11 students performed at the assembly; as solos, duos, and even bands. Among those 11 were Sierra Henneous and Lydia Bartlett. Henneous, a senior at SHS who has been in the Americana Project all of high school, said being in the assembly “was really fun. As a performer it’s way less nerve-wracking to be up there with somebody else, so I’m really grateful to have Bevyn [Dyre] with me. It also felt like the assembly was way more appreciated this year than last year.”

Henneous and Dyre often write original music together, and at this assembly performed Henneous’ new song, “Flight Attendance.”

Bartlett, a senior who has been in the program since the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year said, “It was a really fun experience. It was my first time actually performing in front of a crowd, so it was a new experience for me, but it was fun.”

Bartlett performed an original entitled “Rumors” with freshmen Jessica Dunn.

“Flight Attendance,” “Rumors,” and all the other songs performed at the assembly were a big hit among students. August McKeown, a senior, said he enjoyed “getting to see people you know and speak with every day show what they’re capable of in a way we haven’t seen before.”

Another senior, Quinlan Crowe, said she enjoyed “the quality music put on by our high school students.”

The teachers, many of whom enjoyed the many performances, felt the assembly was well-received by the student body. Social studies teacher, Gail Greaney, said that she “enjoyed it, and no one was on their phones” in the audience, something difficult to achieve at a high school assembly. Art teacher Bethany Gunnarson said that “the majority of the student body were really attentive, and I didn’t hear anyone being disrespectful, so I think they were pretty impressed overall.” Math teacher Kristy Rawls was impressed by the Americana Project assembly as well, and said she “appreciated the way Brad [Tisdel] set up the assembly, and the music was written really well.”

Johnson had said that the goal for the assembly was “allowing the Americana Project students to show how incredible the Americana Project is and showcase their music.”

When asked if he felt such a goal was achieved, Johnson said he thought the assembly “was amazing, I’m incredibly proud of all the students.”