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Honors Convocation is April 18
posted April 11, 2007

Calvin will hold its 52nd Honors Convocation at 7:30 p.m. on April 18 in the Fine Arts Center. A reception in the Commons Dining Hall will follow the ceremony.

2006 Honors GradsThe occasion celebrates not only the 55 students who are graduating with honors in one or more subject, but also this year's numerous Dean’s List honorees, some 1,800 (of whom 115 have figured on the list every year of their Calvin career).

It also is an important annual marker in the Calvin school year says Ken Bratt, professor of classical languages and director of the honors program.

“We are blessed with an amazing number of top students," he says. "What better way to honor what these students have achieved than by celebrating with them once a year?”

Bratt adds that the event serves another important purpose as well.

“It also is a way," he says, "that we can encourage other students to do the same.”

As in recent years, Honors Convocation will feature both a faculty speaker, English professor Karen Saupe, and a student speaker, senior honoree in religion Ryan Kruis.

And, as is traditional for this occasion, honors students will wear academic gowns, sit onstage and receive gold medallions for their achievement.

This year, however, the event will feature a couple of firsts.

For the first time, the students who have achieved Dean’s List standing every year will be honored onstage with certificates. And for the first time, one of the seniors receiving a gold medallion as an honors grad, will be wearing it for honoring in three subjects.

The triple honoree is Kory Plockmeyer, who earned the distinction in classical studies, Greek and Latin.

Plockmeyer, 21-year old president of Calvin’s Classics Club (he recently played the role of Brutus in the club’s Ides of March re-enactment) says of his heavy homework load: “It was a little stressful.”

But the extra work -- which included reading little-known Greek and Roman authors, adding an additional 10-to-15-page paper to each course and even translating a chapter of Lord of the Rings into Latin -- was worth it.

“I really enjoyed the research I’ve done,” Plockmeyer says. “I’ve found that honors work has prepared me well for the work I’ll be doing in graduate school.”

In fact, he says that while checking out grad programs, he learned that he has already read many of the authors as an honors graduate of the Calvin classics department that he will be required to read as a graduate student.

“It’s truly a testament to how wonderful a Calvin education is,” says Plockmeyer, who will pursue his classics PhD at the University of Florida.

Bratt says the Plockmeyer has the right idea about honors work at Calvin.

“The honor is not the point,” he says. “The point is deepening your work in discipline and strengthening your relationships with professors and peers.”

The point of the evening, Bratt stresses, is enjoyment.

“Gradually, we’ve tried to introduce more stuff that would be more celebrative,” he says of the event, whose reputation was formerly somewhat staid.

Saupe is preparing to enjoy the event, and she is pondering her speech.

“I was delighted to be picked,” she says. “I’ve been telling myself all year that I wasn’t going to say yes to anything else, because I’m busy, but I couldn’t say no to this. I think for the last four years, it’s been a talk that people have really looked forward to. It’s fun occasion. It’s a festive occasion, and it’s good to celebrate learning.”

Honors convocation has been a Calvin tradition since 1955, but the honors program has experienced signifcant growth over the last 14 years.

In 1993, when Bratt assumed the directorship of the program, Calvin’s honors graduates numbered only two. Since that time, Calvin has given more structure to the program, by strengthening requirements in all disciplines, while recognizing and encouraging academic talent early on.

~written by Calvin staff writer Myrna Anderson

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