Elephantine Emotions on (and After) Opus Prize Night

We’ve had two engaging and thoughtful blogs already about the Opus Prize and its winners. Can there be more to say? More to write? More to convey?

As a back-stage, behind-the-scenes, on-stage and fully engaged participant in the Opus Prize preparations and production, I say, “Yes! Yes! Yes!” Such a grand event provided all who attended mountainous lessons and elephantine emotions. Here are a few of the reflections and comments both overheard and intentionally noted during and after last Wednesday evening’s event.

From my 8th grader, sitting in row 12, seat 5 and up way past his bedtime: “Wow. That was really cool.”

From a student who I don’t know but who stopped me on the sidewalk near Murray-Herrick the next day and was smiling so largely it was as if her joy were bubbling over: “I just wanted to tell you that last night was completely amazing … I learned so much about myself and feel like I can change the world!”

From another student, not one I had met before, who went out of his way while walking with a group of his friends in the halls of OEC: “I’m feeling completely inspired.”
From one of my own COJO 111: Communication and Citizenship students (yes, they received extra credit for attending, but are so inspiring themselves that they probably didn’t need such a carrot): “I used to think I had to have it all figured out. What I was majoring in; what I was going to do with my life. I realized after last night (listening to the award winners) that I can do anything I want to do! I can change the world, and I can do so at any time!”

From my 4th-grade daughter, sitting next to her teenage brother and my husband: “I’d like to get going on that Toys for Tots collection campaign to help children who don’t have toys. I really like what those people are doing.”

From a choir member who I had in class last year: “I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy sitting through the entire event on those hard bleachers on stage. Oh my gosh! I was totally wrong. Those people are totally amazing. They make me want to do whatever I can to love other people and make a difference in my life!”

And from my own vantage point – having met the candidates, learned of their work and stories, and met for hours with those who went on visits to meet them, film them, write their stories and honor them in the grandest fashion last week – I say this: “Holy cow. What can I do each day to make sure I’m at least trying to meet one of the world’s greatest needs?”

The Opus Prize winners make you want to ask yourself that and similar questions today, again tomorrow and each day thereafter. If you missed the event and want to feel so inspired, take just 21 minutes to view the three, seven-minute videos (www.stthomas.edu/opusprize) produced by Brad Jacobsen, Dave Nimmer and Doug Hennes about the honorees. They will leave you – no doubt – saying, “Wow.”