Amanda Birger: Senior Column

For my farewell to Blue Valley North, I want to highlight an aspect of this school that has made my high school career so special and incredible. The choir program at BVN is a treasure and deserves to be recognized. Although I am a tad biased in praising this exceptional program, the achievements of the BVN choirs stand on their own. Just this year, all large ensembles earned superior ratings at the state festivals, many individual singers earned superior ratings at those festivals as well, the mixed chorale was selected to perform at the Kansas Music Educators Association convention in Wichita, an extraordinary honor, and the chamber singers won a contest to open for Daya, Pentatonix and Adam Lambert at the Jingle Jams concert in December.

This surge of musical excellence has been led by choir director, Jason Sickel. In his three short years leading the BVN choir department, Mr. Sickel has been awarded Blue Valley North teacher of the year, nominated for district teacher of the year, and won many awards in the music educators community. It is my opinion, however, that the greatest accomplishment of Mr. Sickel’s short time at BVN is how much of an impact he has had on every student he has encountered. There are not many teachers that dedicate every aspect of their lives to teaching students. Mr. Sickel truly cares about his students’ well-being, tries his best to get to know all of his students, and makes an effort to teach every one in a way that will help them individually. I know I speak for many choir students when I say that I have learned so much from Mr. Sickel and I am so grateful that he is such a big part of our choir family.

My high school career would not have been the same if it were not for the phenomenal choir department and Mr. Sickel, who will always be one of the most influential people in my life. The choir room is where I found my passion, my family, and my home at BVN. If choir is not your thing, I encourage you to find a class or club or activity that you feel connected to as early on in high school as you can. Having my choir friends and Mr. Sickel be there for me whenever I needed them was invaluable to me and I surely would not be the person I am today without them.

I would never have met any of these people had I not joined choir, which I did exclusively because singing and music has always been a passion of mine. In doing something for myself, I found people who understood having such passion for music and that mutual understanding developed into friendship. Do what you love, and friendship and happiness will follow.