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Teacher moved to tears as generations of students honor her with special music video

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IDAHO FALLS — Special teachers have the ability to influence the lives of students for years after they graduate. It takes a truly special teacher to have over 120 students from multiple generations come together to honor them in a tribute video.

But that’s what happened as classmates gathered to surprise Idaho Falls High School choir teacher Zola Jensen, or Ms. J, as many call her. She plans to retire in the near future.

Jessie Wright, who graduated IFHS in 2007, had the idea to make a music video with just a few friends and send it to Jensen. One of those friends, Viola Moon, suggested adding classmates from other years who were interested. Moon created a Facebook group with over 300 former students signing on in 48 hours.

“One person would add a bunch of people and they would add more and now we are here,” Moon says. “I know personally that Ms. J was a pivotal person in our lives. She is a very strong independent woman that a lot of people look up to.”

Brooklyn Gardner, the choir teacher at Thunder Ridge High School, had Ms. J as a teacher years ago. Gardner compiled and sent ‘You are the New Day’ music to students interested in participating in the project. They would then record themselves singing their part while watching a video of conductor Lucas Perry, who graduated in 2009 and is a choir conductor today.

“I would certainly not be a choir conductor if not for Mrs. Jensen,” Perry explains. “I don’t think there is an actual choir out there that will be like this.”

Mark Zabriskie, a 2007 grad, helped set up a cloud service where people could upload their videos. They were then edited by former students Emily Jones (2003 graduate) and other volunteers under the direction of the project director Austin Allen (2007).

Carolyn Olsen, Ms. J’s friend and accompanist, was happy to hear about the plan.

“I was so excited because she has worked so hard and has put her life into it,” she expressed. “I have had a front-row seat for 12 years watching her and every day she is at the top of her game. It doesn’t matter how crappy or what is going on in her personal life. Her work ethic is truly unmatched.”

Some of Ms. J’s former students have ended up in popular music groups after high school. They attribute their success to her.

“It’s hard for her to know the impact that she has had for me personally,” Mark Zabriskie, who has toured all over the world in a Brigham Young University choir. “I don’t think [joining BYU Singers] would have happened without her choir. … I attribute that to Ms. J for taking a chance.”

Cabe John, a 2012 graduate, later became a member of BYU Vocal Point and sang in the video.

“I just thought it was a really cool thing to give back to Mrs. J,” John said. “I imagine she doesn’t feel like she’s done a lot or made a difference in people’s lives. I know she has made a huge difference in my life. She introduced me to the technical side of singing that I had never been introduced to before. That played a huge role in my wanting to pursue music further and wanting to get in and audition for Vocal Point.”

After weeks of editing, Ms. J got to see the final product Tuesday night. She was overwhelmed and honored.

“You never think you are making that much of a difference,” she said. “I can honestly look at those kids and remember their names and the relationships. It was never about a choir. It was about each one of those kids individually. If I really made a difference in their life, my career was all worth it.”

The credits of everyone and how they participated can be found below.

Singers:

  • Aaron Jenkins, ’06 – Bass – A cappella, Expressions – Software Engineer
  • Alexis Walker, ’11 – Alto 2 – Dimensions, A cappella – Collaborative Pianist, Piano Teacher
  • Ali Walker, ’08 – Alto 2 – A cappella, Expressions – Data Analyst
  • Allison Vasquez, ’18 – Alto 1 – Dimensions, A cappella
  • Amber Whitworth, ’12 – Alto 2 – A cappella, Expressions – Artist, Mother
  • Amy Harker Allred, ’00 – Soprano – A cappella (President), Expressions – Mom of 5
  • Andrea Cannon Allred, ’09 – Soprano – Dimensions, A cappella, Expressions
  • Andrea Whittier Jarrett, ’15 – Alto 1 – Dimensions, A cappella, Expressions – Expecting Mother
  • Ashleen Owen, ’11 – Alto 2 – A cappella, Expressions – Mother
  • Ashley Smith, ’05 – Alto – Dimensions – Graphic Designer
  • Ashlyn Dyer, ’16 – Soprano 1 – Dimensions, A cappella (Historian, Section Leader), Expressions
  • Austin Allen, ’07 – Tenor – A cappella (Vice President; section leader), Expressions – Attorney
  • Begoña Avila, ’18 – Soprano 1 – Dimensions, A cappella (Section Leader), Expressions – College Student
  • Beth Westfall, ’09 – Alto – A cappella, Expressions – Mom
  • Braeden Dyer, ’19 – Bass – A cappella (Section Leader), Expressions – Missionary
  • Brandon Murri, ’01 – Bass – A cappella, Expressions – Dentist
  • Brooke Jensen, ’16 – Alto 2 – A cappella (Best Female Vocalist 2016), Expressions – Education Major
  • Brooke Raymond Zwahlen, ’14 – Alto 1 – Dimensions, A cappella – Registered Nurse
  • Brooklynn (Dyer) Gardner, ’13 – Soprano 2 – Dimensions, A cappella (Section Leader), Expressions – High School Choir Director, Piano & Voice Teacher
  • Cabe John, ’12 – Bass – A cappella, Expressions – Medical School Student
  • Caitlin Fernandez, ’06 – Dimensions, A cappella – Pediatrician
  • Camilla Ramazzini, ’17 – Soprano 1 – Dimensions, A cappella (Section Leader), Expressions – Student
  • Carolyn Olsen & Haley Baker – Two old broads warbling
  • Clint Francis, ’10 – Tenor 1 – A cappella (Section Leader), Expressions – Tech College Instructor
  • Colby Butler, ’15 – Tenor 1 – A cappella, Expressions – Property Manager
  • Conner Randall, ’19 – Tenor 1 – A cappella (Vice president), Expressions – Aspiring Choir Director
  • Corinne Pickett, ’10 – Soprano – A cappella (Secretary), Expressions – Music Therapist
  • Cory Whittier, ’08 – Bass 2 – A cappella (Section Leader, President), Expressions – Organist & Choir Director
  • Cory Zwahlen, ’14 – Bass – A cappella, Expressions – Optometry Student
  • Courtney Morrison Kearns, ’07 – Alto 2 – A cappella (Historian), Expressions
  • Coya Reid, ’06 – Soprano – A cappella, Expressions – Mother
  • Cynthia Huntsman Hollis, ’13 – Soprano 1 – A cappella – Mother of 2 & Online Women’s Clothing
  • Daniel Urling, ’19 – Baritone – A cappella, Expressions
  • Derek Romrell, ’13 – Bass – A cappella, Expressions – Videographer & Screenwriter
  • Eli Anderson, ’16 – A cappella, Expressions – Student Choir Teacher
  • Emily Jones, ’03 – Alto – Expressions – Videographer
  • Erica LeBaron (Ovard), ’09 – Alto – Dimensions, A cappella
  • Evan Heath, ’06 – Tenor – A cappella (Section Leader, President) – Banker
  • Evelyn Shull, ’20 – Soprano 1 – Dimensions, A cappella (Section Leader), Expressions
  • Frances Teske, ’07 – Soprano 2 – A cappella – Principal
  • Gracen Atkinson, ’19 – Bass – Expressions – Composer
  • Hailey Weatherby, ’12 – Soprano – A cappella, Expressions (Section Leader) – PhD Student
  • Halle Crose, ’18 – Alto 1 – A cappella (Secretary), Expressions – Student
  • Heidi Hatch, ’17 – Alto 1 – A cappella – Missionary
  • Heidi (Jensen) Pond, ’08 – Alto – A cappella
  • Ian Lund, ’13 – Bass 2 – A cappella, Expressions – Architect
  • Jaimie Higgs Krupp, ’04 – Soprano – A cappella, Expressions
  • James Manzaneres, ’16 – Tenor 2 – Expressions – Business Owner
  • Janessa Walker, ’17 – Alto 1 – Expressions – Sales Rep
  • Jannalyse Erickson, ’10 – Soprano 2 – Dimensions, A cappella – Music Teacher
  • Jason Dyer, ’09 – Tenor 1 – A cappella (Historian, Section Leader), Expressions – Voice Teacher, Classical Singer
  • Jason Murri, ’05 – Baritone – A cappella, Expressions – Radiologist
  • Jaxon Higgs, ’03 – Bass – A cappella, Expressions
  • Jeff Manning, ’06 – Bass – Expressions (Class Officer)
  • Jenaveve Linabary, ’09 – Soprano 1 – Dimensions, A cappella (Secretary, Section Leader), Expressions – Arts Administration
  • Jessica Marboe, ’12 – Alto 1 – A cappella – 5th Grade School Teacher
  • Jessica Marie Nichols, ’10 – Alto 2 – Dimensions, Acapella, Expressions – Jury Commissioner & Author
  • Jessie Wright, ’07 – Soprano 1 – A cappella (Secretary), Expressions – Therapist
  • Jessy Webster, ’10 – Tenor 1 – Expressions – Dutch Bros. Manager
  • Josh Myler, ’09 – Tenor – Acappella – Keller Williams Agent Services
  • Judd Durrant, ’06 – Baritone – A cappella – Pharmacist
  • Julie Wilson Babcock, ’00 – Alto 2 – A cappella
  • Justin Blair, ’03 – Baritone & Tenor – A cappella, Expressions – Attorney
  • Kaitlyn (Lund) McMurtrey, ’08 – Alto – A cappella
  • Karen Ralston, ’14 – Soprano 1 – A cappella (Section Leader) – Cosmetologist
  • Kari Edwards, ’10 – Soprano – Dimensions, A cappella (Historian) – Teacher
  • Karli Carr, ’07 – Alto 2 – Dimensions, A cappella (Section Leader), Expressions – Nurse & Herbalist
  • Katie Kunz, ’16 – Alto1, Soprano 1, Soprano 2 – Dimensions, A cappella, Expressions
  • Kendra Williamson, ’06 – Alto 1 – A cappella (Section Leader), Expressions – Mom/Editor/Teacher
  • Kim Jenkins Morrison, ’01 – Alto – A cappella
  • Kim Lyon, ’02 – Alto 2 – A cappella – Radio Account Executive
  • Kirstie Petersen, ’11 – Soprano – Dimensions, A cappella (Secretary), Expressions – Healthcare Worker
  • Klerisa Eskelsen Leikauf, ’10 – Soprano – Dimensions, A cappella – Surgical Technologist
  • Kristina Peretti, ’17 – Soprano 1 – A cappella – Biochemist
  • Kyle Kowaluk, ’10 – Baritone – Expressions, A cappella – Engineer Student
  • Lakyn Kunz, ’07 – Soprano 1 – Dimensions & A cappella
  • Laura Groberg (Williams), ’01 – Alto 2 – A cappella, Expressions
  • Laura Jenson Kohler, ’07 – Alto 1 – Dimensions
  • Laura Podany, ’99 – Alto – Troubadours – Public Relations
  • Laura Urling, ’17 – Alto 2 – Dimensions, A cappella (Vice President), Expressions
  • Lukas Perry, ’09 – Tenor – A cappella (President), Expressions – Choir Conductor and Organist
  • Lynzi Hale, ’00 – Alto 2 – A cappella (Historian), Expressions
  • Maddie Haan, ’15 – Alto 1 – A cappella (Vice President), Expressions – Music Composition Graduate, Azusa Pacific University
  • McKenzie Haan, ’13 – Soprano 1 – Dimensions, A cappella (Section Leader, President), Expressions – Music Education Graduate, Certified Pre-Teacher, Azusa Pacific University
  • Maren Archibald, ’20 – Alto 1 – Dimensions, A cappella (President, Section Leader), Expressions
  • Marissa (Walker) Dyer, ’13 – Soprano 2 – Dimensions, A cappella, Expressions – Voice Teacher, Classical Singer
  • Mark Zabriskie, ’07 – Baritone – A cappella, Expressions – Senior Business Analyst
  • Mary Caraway, ’13 – Soprano – Dimensions, A cappella, Expressions – Writer
  • Mary Rovig John, ’11 – Alto – Dimensions
  • McKayla Walker Kowallis, ’15 – Alto 1 – A cappella (Section Leader), Expressions – Vivint Inc.
  • McKell Morrison, ’17 – Alto – A cappella (Secretary), Expressions
  • Mckenna Child, ’12 – Alto 1 – A cappella, Expressions
  • Melanie Hawkins, ’12 – Soprano 1 – Dimensions, A cappella (Section Leader), Expressions – Piano Teacher and Mom
  • Melanie Judd, ’09 – Soprano 2 – A cappella
  • Melissa Kowaluk, ’10 – Soprano – Dimensions, A cappella – Marketing
  • Mindy Enos Bird, ’03 – Alto – Expressions – Nurse
  • Nate Roberts, ’09 – Tenor 1 – A cappella – Engineer
  • Nathaniel Hatch, ’18 – Baritone – Men’s Chorus, A cappella (President), Expressions – Missionary
  • Nicole Maxfield, ’07 – Alto – A cappella – Photographer
  • Nikki Parker, ’12 – Soprano 2 – A cappella, Expressions
  • Niquelle Lewis, ’15 – Alto – Dimensions, A cappella, Expressions – Marketing
  • Olivia Beach, ’16 – Alto – Dimensions, A cappella (President), Expressions – Aspiring Choir Teacher
  • Preston Bateman, ’16 – Baritone – Expressions (Section Leader) – College Student
  • Rachel Enos, ’06 – Alto 2 – A cappella, Expressions
  • Regina Avila, ’13 – Soprano – A cappella, Expressions – Music Teacher
  • Remi Burton, ’15 – Alto 2 – A cappella (Secretary), Expressions – Teacher
  • Rose Sorenson, ’11 – Alto 1 – A cappella, Expressions – Civil Engineer
  • Sam Lytton (Stringham), ’04 – Soprano 1, Soprano 2, Alto1 – Dimensions, A cappella (Section Leader), Expressions – Choir Teacher
  • Sam Wright, ’10 – Bass – A cappella, Expressions
  • Sami Viehwig, ’13 – Alto – A cappella – Graphic Designer
  • Savannah Nelson, ’17 – Soprano – Dimensions, A cappella – Future Elementary School Teacher
  • Shaina Kurth, ’15 – Soprano – Dimensions, A cappella – New Mom
  • Shannon Evans, ’16 – Soprano – Freshman Choir – Computer Science Student at UW
  • Shelby Stephens, ’09 – Soprano – Expressions
  • Spencer Dyer, ’06 – Bass – A cappella, Expressions – Resident Physician
  • Tara Whittier, ’06 – Alto 1 – A cappella, Expressions
  • Tiffany Turley, ’07 – Soprano 1 – Expressions
  • Timothy Cannon, ’02 – Bass – A cappella (Section Leader), Expressions – Chiropractor
  • Tonya Branson, ’09 – Soprano – Expressions – Paralegal Assistant
  • Tonya Whittier Robertson, ’02 – Alto 2 – A cappella – Accompanist & Piano Teacher
  • Trystan Ricks, ’14 – Alto 2 – Dimensions, A cappella, Expressions – Elementary Education Major
  • Tyrel Murri, ’03 – Bass-Baritone – A cappella (Section Leader), Expressions – Verizon Account Manager
  • Viola Moon, ’07 – Soprano – Concert Choir, Dimesions, A capella, Expressions – Cosmetology Instructor
  • Whitney Yorgason, ’05 – Alto – A cappella, Expressions

Production Team
Project Managers:

  • Viola Moon
  • Mark Zabriskie
  • Lukas Perry
  • Austin Allen
  • Brooklynn Gardner
  • Garion John Wells

Reference Tracks:

  • Brooklynn Gardner
  • Braeden Dyer
  • Austin Allen

Audio Mixing and Mastering:

  • John Garion Wells

Conductor:

  • Lukas Perry

Video Editors:

  • Emily Jones
  • Christian Jones
  • Derek Romrell
  • Austin Allen

Special Thanks:

  • Carolyn Olsen
  • Jessie Wright
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