For the last couple of years I’ve posted during late May or early June about “why I love spring term.” And now even though I am officially retired, I still love spring term, because it’s the time of so many celebrations of student accomplishments. A couple of weeks ago, Stanford had four celebrations for student writing—one for outstanding writing in the first-year course, one in the second-year course, one in the Writing in the Major course, and one for writing of students in the fairly new Science Writing notation program. In my view, we can never give too many awards, can never celebrate too much for the work our terrific students are doing.
But now in the interests of full disclosure: my absolute favorite award is the one for students in our second-year course: The Lunsford Oral Presentation of Research Award. I was completely surprised—and honored and humbled—seven years ago when this award was announced, and I am honored and humbled right now as I think back over those years and remember all the students who received the award.
This second course is the one in which students focus on multimodal composition and especially on “translating” a text meant to be read into one to be heard and seen. Though this is a required course, students consistently rate it as one of their best Stanford experiences, and they do magnificent work in it. So every term, instructors are invited to nominate a student for the award, which yields three winners and (usually) three honorable mentions a year. But all nominated students are invited to the celebration ceremony, held in late spring, and the Program in Writing and Rhetoric (PWR) lays out a buffet of goodies for students to enjoy while we all mingle and talk. I love it!
This year, the witty and wonderful Marvin Diogenes, Acting Director of PWR, was emcee, announcing the winners and calling on their instructors to say a little about what made the students’ work so outstanding and then to present the winning student with a check, a certificate, and a book (or two!) specially chosen by the instructor for the student. This year, the winners also received another gift—a flash drive with the winning presentations on it, in the shape of a golden key. Marvin had everyone laughing as he engaged in a bit of rhetorical hyperbole, saying he was certain the students would keep this key forever, bringing it out to show when they graduated from Stanford, when they finished grad school, got their first jobs, went into retirement, etc., etc., etc. Here are a couple of photos of this event:
Students arriving for the LOPRA celebration Award winner Jinhie Skarda presenting "The Star of Interstellar: How Art Informs Science
And that’s (part of) why I love spring term!