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THS students get rockstar treatment with John Lennon bus

John Lennon Educational Tour Bus stopped by Tigard High on Friday morning.

TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - John Lennon bus tour guide Gabe Smith talks with Tigard High students about music life on the bus on Friday, Feb. 19.You may say that the bus parked behind Tigard High School on Friday afternoon was run by dreamers. And you’re not the only one.

The John Lennon Educational Tour Bus, a nonprofit organization that tours the country, giving students the chance to record music and videos, stopped at Tigard High on Friday offering tours to students.

The bus is named after John Lennon, the English singer, songwriter and former member of The Beatles who was killed outside his New York apartment in 1980 by a lone gunman.

The bus is a fully operational recording studio, complete with state-of-the-art sound and video equipment. Students record videos and songs on the bus, which are broadcast on Youtube.

Tigard High School students got the chance to tour the bus on Friday, then rock out on guitar and drums outside the school, all in the name of peace.

The bus is currently on tour to celebrate what would-have-been Lennon’s 75th birthday.

Hans Tanner, a spokesman with the Educational Bus, said the bus’ mission is to give students the chance to experience the world in a new way.

“We try to give kids an environment that they’ve never seen before,” Tanner said. “We want to give them an experience to ask questions and hopefully they leave the bus ready to see what it takes to express yourself. All it takes is desire. That’s the whole point of the bus.”

TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Tigard High school students play instruments outside the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus on Friday.The bus began as an offshoot of the John Lennon Songwriting Contest, an international contest for amateur and professional songwriters started by Lennon’s wife, Yoko Ono.

Doug Olson, the president of the Tigard High School Boosters, helped bring the bus to Tigard. Olson is senior account manager at Juniper Networks, one of the bus’ sponsors.

The bus made other stops in the Portland area over the last week, with stops at the Vancouver School of Arts and Academics and Helensview High School in Portland before moving to Astoria, Medford and then San Jose, Calif.

“It’s a great opportunity for the kids,” Olson said. “There are so many creative kids here, but at this age many of them don’t know what they want to do, so exposure is huge.”

Whether its music, film, photography or some other form of self-expression, Olson said, the key is getting students to try something new.

“A lot of kids are artistic, but they don’t know what to expose themselves to,” he said.

TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - The John Lennon Educational Tour Bus travels the country recording music and videos with students. The bus made a brief stop in Tigard for tours before continuing on its way across the U.S.

Olson is planning to bring the bus back to Tigard next year, and hopes to have keep it for several days, to allow students to do more than just tour the bus’ interior.

“I want kids to come in and record videos,” he said.

Tanner, who toured on the bus for 4 ½ years, said that while Lennon may be gone, his message of peace continues.

“John … got famous at a time when technology was at a place that you could broadcast a message to the world and more people could hear your message than ever before,” Tanner said. “At the time that he was in the spotlight he took that ability to have such a huge audience and instead of promoting himself and his fame he switched to promoting peace. That’s something very inspirational to the people today and that’s the mission of this bus: To continue that mission and continue broadcasting. Not in the same way he did it, obviously, nobody is going to fill his shoes, but by listening to these kids and recording them and hearing what they have to say and broadcasting their message to the world.”

Tanner said that getting kids excited about the arts is a great way to bring Lennon’s message home.

“All you need is a desire,” he said. “The technology exists in your pocket already. By getting kids excited to create something they are passionate about, we can make the world a more peaceful place.”

By Geoff Pursinger
Assistant Editor
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