Hiram welcomed its largest Sugar Day to date, with over 140 student presenters representing twenty-nine various courses, academic programs and college departments. Officially, there were eighteen events including guided hikes, musical and theatre performances, oral presentations, poster sessions, and a conference social.
“I really appreciated how many of my colleagues were working Sugar Day into their classes,” said Steve Romberger, Ph.D., associate professor of chemistry, and lead organizer of Sugar Day. “Some of this was having students present during the day, which is invaluable in organizing a day such as this. But some of it was in very different ways too. For instance, our Choose Ohio First Scholars met during the all-campus social to discuss what they saw, heard, and learned during the day while another one of my colleagues, Dr. Morgan Clevenger, was having his students take pictures of different figures during the poster session so that they can discuss how different disciplines display and organize data.”
One of the most well—attended events at Sugar Day was the poster session where students from various academic disciplines and grade levels presented their research.
First-year student, Lina Ross researched “A Brief History of African American Cinema” after her History of Film in Cinema course began delving into the history of film. “The most exciting part of my research was to see such a clear evolution in the history of African American cinema. It really helps you see the full picture when it is laid out in a visual and informational presentation like the posters. I ended up finding out that the first known film directed by an African American woman isn’t available to the public to be viewed. I hope that one day it will be restored and distributed so we can appreciate it,” said Ross.
Here are a few additional examples of what our Hiram students presented:
- “What is the Relationship Between Employee Benefits and Retention Rates”, by Daniel Wimsett.
- “Breastfeeding and Postpartum Depression”, by Kelsie Gaiser
- “Taking a Step in the Right Direction: Walking Forward Vs. Walking Backwards Post Operatively”, by Abriana Schwartz
- “Implicit Bias Education for African American Maternal Care”, by Armani Hall
- “Identifying Spatial Bias in eBird Data”, by Sandy Hahn
Assistant Dean of Students, Mick Steiner was one of many faculty and staff members perusing the posters and discussing topics with students. He said, “Sugar Day was the perfect opportunity for our talented students to showcase their academic interests, long-term research, and the arts. I was impressed with the breadth of topics covered and how the community came together to support student success. Although the tradition of Sugar Day has changed and evolved over time, the addition of this year’s social honored the legacy of togetherness and community that makes Hiram so very special.”
Sugar Day continues to be one of the oldest campus traditions, though it has been celebrated in many forms since its founding. Beginning in 1856 as a celebration of collecting maple syrup, fondly called the “Day of Running Sap” by the Class of 1946, the day demonstrates community and service in varying capacities. In recent years, Sugar Day was restarted as a day of scholarship to showcase student presentations and academia.
Sugar Day is recognized with the founding tradition—making and enjoying maple syrup! Students and faculty were first invited to the Udall camp for sugar stirs and because the occurrence was so well-received, the affair was repeated annually and added to with various celebrations and events. For instance, tug-of-war competitions, potato sack races, and student/faculty baseball games were introduced.
Sugar Day was eventually taken over by an ominous group of senior students known as the Hiram College Students Senate’s On Campus Activities Committee. Few students were “in the know” about the event and it was of great importance to keep the date a secret. The seniors took it so far as tricking other Hiramites and faculty from knowing the event. According to the 1966 Advance newspaper, it was believed to be the “most tightly guarded secret in the history of Hiram College.”
“The senior class even had Sugar Day fliers dropped over Hiram by a plane,” said Ian Johnson, an integrated language arts major, and presenter at the Sugar Day poster session. His presentation was on the “History of Sugar Day”, and he spent months scouring the archives in Hiram’s library to find literature on the event.
“I think it’s a good change to see Sugar Day transform into what it is today. There is a lot of encouragement for academic thought from our professors,” said Johnson.
Sugar Day continues to evolve and be a well-loved tradition for fellow Hiramites. From the maple-themed lunch in the dining hall, the combined poster session and student art show, and the all-campus social, the campus was abuzz with discussion and academic thought.
“I think the best part of the day was the energy it generated.,” said Dr. Romberger. “People were there to support and celebrate the work each had done, not just other students, faculty, and staff, but friends, family, and the other guests that attended the day. As a professor and the Sugar Day organizer, it was especially heartening to see the number of family and friends that were able to carve time out of their schedules to see the work that their students had done. And that, that is why we do this!”
For a full list of photos from the event, find our Flickr album here.
By Elyse Pitkin