Elizabeth "Izzie" Olson

Elizabeth “Izzie” Olson is a student, poet, singer, writer, future nurse practitioner and a monthly contributor to the Student Success blog.

Izzie Olson’s December column reminds us the role teacher play in supporting student success – and how student success has a positive effect as it ripples through our communities. Enjoy and Happy New Year!

During the holiday season, people worry about having a successful Christmas. The thoughts of “success” are often shallow, and consist of: What will I get this year?  Will my gift be better than someone else’s? How much will I eat this year? But I have seen a different side of the holidays. This year the Greenway High School has been blessed with a new choir director. Mr. Jason Thurm has brought so much to our school, including great performances, focused classes, and student respect. But there is one thing that stands out:  Bringing Christmas cheer to the community through caroling.

Mr. Thurm has facilitated Christmas caroling for area residents for eleven years.  Before coming to Greenway, he was the choir director in Deer River. He has been very proactive in preparing his students for such events, and believes that every performance is important, and should be treated as such. In Mr. Thurm’s eyes, excuses are not tolerated. I have had the great joy of being able to participate in this enthusiastic experience and the memories will be with me for a lifetime.

When I asked Mr. Thurm if he thought success could be defined as spreading cheer and seeing smiling faces, he responded with a joyful, “Oh! Absolutely!” I also asked why he started the tradition of caroling for the public. “There is a desire and a need for a live performance, and in doing this we fulfill this need.”  When asked, “Do you think your students feel the same way?” he simply said, “Yes.”

Since caroling, we have received numerous positive responses via email and verbal appreciations. The Christmas spirit has increased throughout our community, due to our desire to share the passion of music.  Looking into the crowd, I could see the elation that was experienced, and nothing has brought me a greater feeling of accomplishment.

Success can be as simple as bringing a smile to someone who needs it most or it can be a shallow thought. I am proud to be a successful Raider Singer and spreading joy with my brilliant choir director.  How will you be successful this holiday season?