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What is Ribbons of Excellence?

“Art is a mirror, and if we use art the way art is meant to be used in its functional form, it is something that could be a source of reconciliation. A source of healing. A broadened understanding to empathy, awareness, all of these things.”

With this remark, Dr. Marty Marks kicked off the 11th Annual Ribbons of Excellence day.   

On Wednesday, April 3, 2019, Adrian College celebrated the scholarly and creative abilities of its students during the Annual Ribbons of Excellence Day. This long standing tradition celebrates the academic excellence and achievements by means of presentations and creative activities designed by the students and faculty of Adrian College, and acts as an outlet through which students can explore and engage in topics of inquiry.

This year’s ROE presented several guest speakers including opening speaker Dr. Marks, keynote Eric Stone’s speech on “A Very Potter Home in the Woods,” and a broad range of over 70 student showcases. These abstracts included posters, presentations, performances, student lead poetry readings, and everything in-between.

Emily Archer was decided this year’s winner for her lecture and demonstration on an American adaptation of traditional Japanese raku firing process. Archer began by presenting her scholarship on the history and science behind secondary reduction firing, and followed the presentation with a short demonstration in which the audience could witness an actual secondary reduction firing and experience the scientific process first hand.

“The presentation was interesting and full of great information” said Renee Collins, a judge at this year’s ROE. “I learned a lot from it. She (Archer) has an engaging way of relating to the audience. Her demonstration really put it over the top for me. She walked us through the process she had just talked about in her presentation, and then actually showed a couple of techniques.”

Raku ware is traditionally associated with the Japanese tea ceremony, originating in the 16th century, and was often hand molded involving lead-based glazes, wood-fired kilns, and air cooling.

Another student, senior Brodie Lobb, used ROE as a chance to explore and present an issue that he has developed a strong passion for over the past couple of years.

“My presentation topic was focusing on the reason why LGBT+ inclusive spaces are necessary and how everyday people can create safe spaces within their own social spheres,” said Lobb. “The ROE helped me in terms of presenting this topic because we need to start thinking critically about the interactions we have with individuals that might cause them harm or perpetuate systemic oppression against them, regardless of whether the interaction was malicious or not. We need to recognize that at the end of the day, we have a responsibility to care for the humanity inside every person we interact with, and that our words and actions have weight to them.”

The idea for Ribbons of Excellence was first adopted in 2007 by the academic community at Adrian College. Starting in 1887, the graduating seniors at the time passed down a cane in the form of a shepherd’s crook to the junior class, and the rest is history.

Continuing this tradition, the cane has been fastened with a ribbon of a different color with a list of that year’s graduates, and passed down to the junior class.

Each ribbon on the cane, represented by a different color, embodies a certain standard of excellence; caring for humanity and the world, learning throughout a lifetime, thinking critically, crossing boundaries and disciplines, and developing creativity.

In order to define these ribbons further, explanations were developed to show the meaning and execution of each ribbon. Caring for humanity and the world: making socially responsible decisions; providing service to local and global communities; interacting positively with persons of diverse cultures and backgrounds. Learning throughout a lifetime consists of continuing to ask important questions, pursuing knowledge in each new age and remaining open to new learning experiences. Thinking critically is developing critical habits of the mind, exploring multiple points of view, raising thoughtful questions and identifying problems and solutions. Crossing boundaries and disciplines includes developing literacy in multiple fields, personifying the liberal arts experience and making connections across disciplines. Developing creativity is engaging in creative arts, developing creative talents and skills and recognizing and employing figurative expression.

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