Port Townsend: Kids make custom guitars for Rhododendron strumming

PORT TOWNSEND — With a screwdriver in his right hand and a firm grip on the neck of his guitar, Calvin Franklin smiled widely as he secured three tuning keys to his custom-made instrument.

“I can’t wait to play this thing!” the 8-year-old said.

Next to him, Charlie Morris tightened the screws onto her guitar.

Austin Buhniller, Lily Price and more than a dozen other second-graders sitting nearby do the same.

There’s no wild ambition to run outside on this sunny Thursday afternoon at Grant Street Elementary School.

The desire to build the instruments is apparent by the children’s unwavering attention on one man: music educator Andy Mackie of Quilcene.

In a previous session with Mackie, the instruments were glued together.

On Thursday, Mackie and three high school wood shop students helped to put the finishing touches on the guitars.

The pupils’ teacher, Mary Sepler, took a break and looked over her classroom.

“Do you see how focused they are?” she asked. “This is not typical second-grade behavior.

“They’re excited about it.”

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