Every April, Clark’s English Department gathers in Anderson House to celebrate the end of the school year with food, conversation, and awards. The longstanding event — Spring Fling — is an important tradition for students and faculty, so when the COVID-19 pandemic closed campus, the department decided to take the festivities online.
“We’ve always had a really strong community. Anderson House is very amenable to having these kinds of social events, and we have a number of events each year,” says Lisa Kasmer, department chair. “Spring Fling not only celebrates award-winners — it invites in all of our students. We always have great food and they get to see their professors. We tend to be a very close department.”
The English Department will hold a virtual Spring Fling on April 29 from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. via Zoom. The gathering will celebrate the winners of the creative writing and essay contests, which will be followed by the induction of new members into the Sigma Tau Delta English Honor Society. Attendees are encouraged to wear their favorite festive attire.
Mahi Taban ’21, who won first place in the 2020 Leroy Allston Ames Essay Contest, said she was thrilled to hear the event would continue this year.
“I think it’s a good opportunity for people to come together and for us to remember the community we have on Clark’s campus, even though we’re all so far away,” she says.
Winning the award for her essay, “Sexual Identity, Foreignness, and the Gothic Vampire: The Racialization of Homosexuality in Camilla,” was a particularly uplifting moment amid the pandemic. She said the contests are a great way for students to receive feedback on their work — whether it’s a critical essay, poem, or short story — and earn recognition for their efforts.
Davina Tomlin ’20 is also among the writers who will be honored during Spring Fling. She placed second in the essay contest for her piece, “Men and Tools in ‘Ode to a Nightingale,’” which relates John Keats’ 19th century poem to the human experience and how people interact with nature. She says she’s looking forward to hearing from her peers — some of whom will read excerpts from their work aloud during the event.
“The thing that’s sticking out to me is how hard the department is trying to keep the community together and trying to supplement these events we don’t get to have,” she says. “It feels extra special to me because of how homey the department is and how much effort they’ve put into making it feel cozy — even digitally.”
Kasmer says both students and faculty have stayed engaged during the switch to remote learning. The department has continued to send out its monthly newsletter with news about students, faculty, and alumni, and regularly updates the Clark Writes blog with student work. Students also have been asked to submit videos of their favorite memories, which the department is sharing on Facebook.
“We’ve already received word from a number of students about Spring Fling,” Kasmer adds. “They seem pretty excited about this.”