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In the midst of his busy schedule, Reed Grimm stopped by Greenwood Elementary School in River Falls to share his thoughts with the students about character. Jamieson Follstad's fifth-grade class posed with Grimm. They are, front from left, Zach Nyberg, Jared Creen, Hunter Wahus, Alana Feser, Connor Weinzirl, Celia Olson and Kaley Manglitz; second row, Grace Firth, Amara Schaffhausen, Ellie Linehan, Reed Grimm, John Cassidy and Bennet Cernohous; third row, Allison Olson-Walker, Katie Pichla, Ezra Wells, C...

Reed Grimm - more than 'Idol' contestant

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Yes, Reed Grimm appears a little quirky on "American Idol," but it is that and his genuine kindness and compassion that makes him the real deal. Grimm is remembered as a terrific kid by practically everyone who knows him -- adults and peers alike. Now the world is has the chance to realize the same thing about him. Viewed by nearly 20 million people the show is carried throughout the world and Grimm's name and videos of his performances have showed up nearly everywhere.

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On a recent visit to three schools in River Falls to talk about character, Grimm's own character traits brightened the day.

He is one of the top 24 contestants on the popular reality show. Thursday he will find out if his live performance on Tuesday garnered enough votes to catapult him into the top twelve finalists.

It is not just his musical talent that got him there. Grimm is a thoughtful person. His mom likes to refer to him as a philosophical drummer. He wants to make the world a better place. While his "Idol" fate now lies in the public voting for him, at 26, he has long since realized his destiny comes from within.

"As far as my emotions go, I remind myself I'm going to be put out there in front of the world and I just hope to be real," said Grimm. "This time, (Grimm auditioned for "Idol" four times before) I envisioned it as a life creation, as though what I was imagining was manifesting itself. It was and it is a joy as I continue to go through this process.

"One of the biggest things about it is the continual effort to give yourself inner self confidence and to help it grow," said Grimm, who is candid about the fact that he hopes music will open doors for him to share his thoughts about making a difference in the world.

Feb. 2, Grimm went on a whirlwind tour of three schools in River Falls.

"I did some speaking recently at schools about honesty, perseverance and courage," said Grimm. "It is tough, as we go through life we get put in certain situations where our character shines through. But character isn't really about showing someone else, it is about doing the right things.

"Good character is an end within itself," said Grimm. "I know I'm not perfect and I'm not as courageous as I should be but we are learning from our life experiences. Character isn't about anybody else it's about showing yourself what you are made of."

When asked to share another aspect of life that is important to him Grimm answered unequivocally -- all forms of art.

"One thing that is important to me is art in general," said Grimm, who took a breath. "I need to slow down when I talk about these things because it is so important. There are a lot of troubled youth, who could benefit by being channeled towards art whether it is music, drama, painting -- it is all art.

"Actually art is an amazing vehicle to bring the imagined world to the physical world," said Grimm. "Everything we have in the world was once imaginary. It shows that imagination is the foundation of creating. Art works that muscle in us that is consciously creating.

"As you grow you want to create bigger and better things," said Grimm. "Eventually you want to create world peace, peace in general, a better world."

For the students in River Falls who had a chance to listen to Grimm, their world has already expanded.

"Reed came to talk to our school about character education," said Bridget Lyons, music teacher at Greenwood Elementary School. "There is a district wide character education initiative. The students and staff really enjoyed his energy and message.

"He gave the students examples of traits and how he had used them. He had to show 'perseverance' since he has auditioned four times for 'American Idol' before finally making it this far. He talked about having 'courage' -- auditioning for the famous judges. He told us how he 'cooperates' with his band - the Shoeless Revolution.

"The whole audience was totally taken in by his infectious energy and 'positive attitude.' The students were star-struck and knew they were in the presence of something big. We have been following his journey in music class and were super excited when he made the top 24. It has been a great learning opportunity to watch him every week as he has continued to show the character traits he talked about and we are learning about.

"Students are even picking character traits out on their own," said Lyons.

"One night a fellow singer from his group did not continue on in the competition and Reed was shown comforting this singer. The next day a third-grade girl said "Reed showed 'compassion' last night when he put his arm around that guy who was sad." He has shown great perseverance and definitely a positive attitude throughout this competition."

Lyons' students will be doing a special project this week as part of their character education.

"We are sending a DVD to Reed," said Lyons. "It is kind of a paying it forward with a positive attitude. His visit has had quite an impact on the students."

Grimm also visited Meyer Middle School and Westside Elementary.

"At Meyer Middle School our theme this year is striving for your own Personal Everest," said assistant principal Rick Cleary. "We want students to really push themselves to dream big, Wow, Reed is a perfect example of someone doing just that." It was evident the students were enthralled with him.

"Teachers reported that he was one of the most engaging speakers MMS has ever had," said Cleary. "To me, the thing that was really impressive was how he genuinely tried to relate to the students. He talked about how hard it was to persevere in the face of four failed tryouts for 'American Idol.' Going back to his own middle school years, he talked about a time when he wasn't honest and how that affected him, how the only way he made it better was by being courageous and taking responsibility for what he'd done."

"Reed exemplifies the character traits we are striving to teach our students," said Cleary. "The guy that you see on 'American Idol' with the hyper-positive attitude, that's Reed all the time. It's so nice to be able to root for someone who is the real deal."

If Grimm survives he will become one of the 12 finalists who will perform live Wednesday, March 7, at 7 p.m.

We will post updates to our website after each show this week.

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