St. Olaf College | News

Grateful for every Ole

The St. Olaf College community is more than just a place. It’s every Ole, wherever they are, being true to their values and giving their best to make this world a better place.

When campus is bustling again, that will feel familiar. But right now we’re reflecting on how grateful we are for every Ole who has helped build the spirit of this remarkable place. We will continue to find ways to come together, to learn, to support each other — and to express our gratitude.

Even in these early weeks of a new reality, St. Olaf community members are reaching out to support each other and tell others how much they mean to them.

As part of its virtual programming, the St. Olaf Office of Student Activities created Gratitude Grams — a simple way to send encouraging words to others.

Oles have already sent more than 50 Gratitude Grams to people they appreciate, says Associate Director of Student Activities Brandon Cash ’16. These messages can focus on anything ranging from  “thank you for being such an amazing light in my life” to “I really value your friendship” to “you should be proud of how you’ve navigated these challenges!”

“The genuine heart of this community never ceases to amaze me,” says Associate Director of Student Activities Brandon Cash ’16.

The grams are one way that Oles have transferred their care for each other to a virtual space. “The genuine heart of this community never ceases to amaze me,” Cash says.

All are welcome to send a gram, including alumni, parents, faculty, and staff. Cash hopes this portal is one small way to help the St. Olaf community stay connected.

“Our message to Oles is that we are here for you,” he says. “I hope students know that our virtual ‘doors’ are still open just as they were when we were on campus. Reach out for support if you need it and stay connected with those you care about. We will get through this.”

Another way that Oles have expressed gratitude is — of course — through music. After 145 faculty and staff members came together to send gift cards to the college’s Facilities team in gratitude for its extra efforts to clean and care for the campus, Assistant Professor of Music Louis Epstein composed a song in the team’s honor as well.

“I was inspired to capture the spirit of positivity and generosity that I saw developing,” says Assistant Professor of Music Louis Epstein about the song he composed.

“I was inspired to capture the spirit of positivity and generosity that I saw developing through the ‘St. Olaf Talk’ Facebook page that was recently reactivated to help people think through moving our work online. I saw lots of support as people grappled with hard questions and shared their own feelings of vulnerability and loss, and there were also many expressions of gratitude to each other and to people not in the group for their work in keeping campus running,” Epstein says.

In that conversation, Epstein says several colleagues suggested putting their gratitude to song. “I ran with the idea that Facilities deserved a kind of patriotic anthem that matched the epicness of the challenge they take on every day, not only in the time of coronavirus,” he adds.

His composition, “Ode for Facilities,” is performed in the audio file below by Epstein and fellow music faculty member Tesfa Wondamagegnehu, as well as students Madeline Miller ’20 and Amanda Goldberg ’21. Follow along with the lyrics below.


“Ode for Facilities”

Facilities, Facilities
You do all the things
Fix and clean, make campus green
Maintain our lovely buildings

Facilities, Facilities
You make campus bright
Your radiant smiles and salt stockpiles
Are spread to much delight

You give and give, you hold the key
To offices and classrooms we
Have locked ourselves outside of
When we need you come like angels, kind of

You so inspire us
Through rain, snow, and coronavirus
Facilities, Facilities, Facilities
We love you!

While we don’t always express our appreciation and gratitude for all the people who make up the fabric of the St. Olaf community — our students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents, and so many others — it’s time to say THANK YOU for everything you do and who you are. This is a community that holds together even when we’re apart. 

Oles Can. Oles Will.