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Students learn about perseverance


Former WLHS grad performs at Rosemont

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Portland musician Tyler Stenson performed and spoke at Rosemont Ridge Middle School.Kites with ribbon tails hung overhead. Onstage at Rosemont Ridge Middle School, songwriter and West Linn High School graduate Tyler Stenson wore a flannel and stood in front of a lone microphone. An acoustic guitar nestled between his hands and a harmonica was strung around his neck.

Stenson performed and spoke on Dec. 5 to the approximately 200 sixth-graders who scribbled in their creative writing notebooks or swayed back and forth to the music while seated at the cafeteria tables.

Stenson told the students he wrote a song called “Better Be Us All” to lift his friend’s spirits, to comfort a homesick brother and to encourage another brother’s business venture. The song was meant to illustrate that perseverance prevails.

“If you persevere, it will get better,” he said. “Despite the hard times, someones going make it, but it better be us all.”

Stenson also spoke of a song titled “This Too Shall Pass,” which was inspired by his friends who lost their jobs and loved ones. At the end of the song, the students sang along to the chorus and filled the space with the words “this too shall pass.” He encouraged students to never to give up.

“Don’t get burned in the sunshine,” he said. “Remember, you’re not the only one.”

Stenson was brought to Rosemont Ridge Middle School to perform and give a motivational talk about perseverance by his former West Linn High School wrestling coach, Doug Sameron — who is also a sixth-grade teacher at Rosemont.

“One of our character education goals at this building is to teach perseverance,” Sameron said, noting his has followed Stenson’s musical career. “He’s off on this journey of trying to become a recording artist. ...

“What better way than to have someone who is in the moment, someone who is the perfect example of someone who has set a goal and is working hard toward it.”

Prior to his presentation, students watched a video about Stenson’s 13-year musical career and were given a creative writing assignment featuring words like whistlestop, daffodil, and clover — all words from Stenson’s songs. Students read their work to one another and some had the opportunity to share their story with the entire sixth grade.

Following his talk and performance, Stenson went classroom to classroom and answered questions about his writing process and helped students “think outside the box” with their own writing, Sameron said.

“What a great person to come and share with kids his story with the underlying idea of perseverance,” he said. “Tyler’s performance was much more meaningful and dynamic than me giving a lesson about perseverance. ... His story also illustrates that writing is fun and you can do something with it.”

Toward the end of his performance, Stenson told students that he is constantly searching.

“I am not where I want to be yet,” he said. “The best piece of advice I ever got was that the journey is the reward. Perseverance will get you there, but don’t forget the journey along the way.”

Tyler Stenson

Stenson played the Northwest college circuit throughout the early 2000s and dived into Portland’s rock and roll scene with a full band in 2007.

He has since become a solo artist. He was named "Songwriter of the Year" by the Portland Songwriters Association in 2007 and in 2008, and was named "Best Male Artist" at the 2011 Portland Music Awards.

His first album, "Princess Will," was released in 2000. His latest album, "Some Days I'm a Lion," was released this year.

For more information, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit tylerstenson.com.