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Mr. Linn says “Adieu” after 26 years of teaching

Selaam Dollisso, Online Managing Editor

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Year after year, the Ames High music department exhibits excellence through its many captivating performances, including the madrigal dinner, the musical, and other various concerts. For the past 26 years, Steven Linn has manned this multi-faceted and time-demanding ship with remarkable poise and contagious charisma.

Announcing his retirement earlier this spring, Mr. Linn and the hundreds he has touched over the years reflect on almost three decades of hard work spent making the music department as successful as it has become today. Linn’s positivity and push for all of his students to reach their fullest potential will be greatly missed. Nonetheless, the shining talent of Ames students remains, and Linn has no doubt the future will be bright as they rise to the occasion.

Linn’s musical roots first sprouted as a young boy in his church where he was not only a singer, but the church’s organist from eighth grade until his senior year in college. “I think the start in my church… caused me to think about a possible career in music”, said Linn. However, he claimed that he was still unsure if music was the route he wanted to pursue.

“I thought about music early on, but then when I got into high school I kind of wanted to be like my brother and be a business major.” In hindsight, he believes that following his brother’s footsteps would have been the wrong decision. Fortunately, after receiving a scholarship, he decided to try out his luck as a music major and ended up loving it.  

Before calling Ames High his home, Linn’s first job out of college was in Manning, and then he eventually moved on to work at Ballard. Once he familiarized himself with the Ames area, he thought teaching at Ames High would be the dream job. “Ames [has] Iowa State University and a great music program… I just thought wow, that is… my fantasy.”

His dream came true at the ripe age of 29 when he landed the job as choral director. “I was so thrilled to take on this program, and now, 26 years later, I still feel honored and thrilled to be teaching at Ames High school,” said Linn. Those who have been audience members to any shows put on by the choir department are surely to reflect sentiments of “thrill” and “honor” as they look upon the students’ hard work.

“I just feel fortunate that I have been able to share my love of music with hundreds and hundreds of students all these years, and that they can see I’m passionate about it and kind of demand perfection.”

Fortunately for Linn, this strive for perfection isn’t one-sided. High schoolers know what they want and are devoted and willing to put time and effort into performances they are passionate about. As a result, the caliber to which the choir department is able to orchestrate magnificent arrangements is high.

“It’s… been so… rewarding to work with high school kids… it’s the closest you’re going to get to adult sound, and [a lot of the] repertoire we’ve covered at Ames High over the years [have] been [pieces] college choirs perform,” expressed Linn.

Although Linn believes that the music department has “the cream of the crop kids”, it takes an army of support to pull of choral events in a smooth fashion. “[There has always been] fantastic parental support and good administration. I’ve been honored to [have been] part of the teaching faculty here at Ames High for all these years because… Ames… has top-notch educators.” The community involvement in choral productions not only helps the students, but makes the experience more personal and worthwhile as a viewer.

Besides singing a lively and unique rendition of “Happy Birthday” for students and filling the choir room wall with creatively-colored alumni bricks, Ames High choir has many long-lived traditions that make the music experience even more memorable.

“I hope the traditions that we have will continue. I have great memories of… the concerts we’ve put on all through the year[s]… and our extracurricular activities within vocal music, such as the madrigal singers, the musical, solo ensemble contest and choir tour…, things that kids have to give up time outside of the school day for.”

In terms of what the future holds for Linn, he is excited to start a new chapter of his life and discover more opportunities to satiate his love for music. “Right now I’m exploring possibilities. I am the music program director at Urbandale United Church of Christ, so I am planning on getting more involved in that. I would [also] like to do piano accompanying gigs that open up because I love [playing] piano.”

Under Mr. Linn’s direction, the past 26 years of choral music at Ames High have flown by, but the impact he has made in his students’ lives will last a lifetime. It would only make sense that we express our deepest gratitude in the universal language in which he holds dearly and teaches spiritedly.

If there were one final song to wish him farewell, it would undoubtedly include, “British-sounding vowels”, consonants sharper than a tack, beautiful dissonants, engaged looks, and a final chord so breathtakingly magnificent, it could only be heard echoing through St. Peter’s Basilica itself.

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Mr. Linn says “Adieu” after 26 years of teaching