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DBHS guitar-making program finishes successful first year

Six students completed program

COAL GROVE — An afterschool guitar-building program at Dawson-Bryant High School, started by technology teacher Tyler Waller, finished its first year on a high note, with six students recently completing the program by building their own electric guitars.

Waller started the program as a way to incorporate something fun the students are interested in with numerous STEM topics being learned along the way.

“The goal of the project was to get my students involved with STEM education in a way that would generate interest, in not only science, technology, engineering and mathematics, but also in arts as well,” Waller said. “In my opinion, we are doing a great job in Ohio educating the youth of tomorrow, but we need a way to connect what the students are learning in the classroom to real-world experiences they may encounter after graduation.”

Some of the most notable topics covered throughout the guitar-making program include computer aided design (CAD), 3D design, physics, chemistry, computer numerical control (CNC), computer aided manufacturing (CAM), basic electronics and geometry, just to name a few. In addition, it teaches the students a skilled trade as well as introducing them to something they could potentially pursue as a career.

“It has been a very exciting journey for me as an educator,” Waller said. “Between attending a National Science Foundation grant funded guitar-building training over the summer, trying to understand the high-level learning needed to build the guitars and seeing my students succeed in the end has been very emotional for me.”

Although 10 students started the journey earlier this school year, only six completed the program due to conflicting schedules, students moving and/or other unforeseen circumstances.

“I feel like the number of students for the pilot year was a great number. I initially wanted around 20 students, but often found myself overwhelmed with even 10 students,” Waller said. “I plan to offer two 18-week sections of the program next year, and have already began recruiting help from fellow educators to make that a success.”

One of the students who finished the program, senior Trevor Deere, even used it as evidence to secure a scholarship to Otterbein University, where he will attend in the fall.

Waller said that several local companies have helped the program get to where it is today, and thanked Larry Slack, with Muth Lumber, Ray White, with Harold White Lumber, Kenny Dickess, with Ohio Valley Crash Parts, and the Collins Career Technical Center’s carpentry/building maintenance programs for helping make the program possible.

If you would like to be part of the program, feel free to contact Waller at 740-532-6345 or email him at tyler.waller@db.k12.oh.us.