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English honor society chapter receives national award

ISSUED: 30 October 2020
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — Shepherd University’s Alpha Gamma Kappa Chapter of Sigma Tau Delta English honor society received a $100 Regents’ Common Reader Award from the national organization for hosting an Outdoor Literature Celebration. The event, which took place October 9 in the Town Run Garden between Knutti and White halls, included about 15 participants from the campus community.

Dr. Heidi Hanrahan, professor of English and chapter advisor, led a discussion of themes from the book “Rough Beauty: Forty Seasons of Mountain Living” by Karen Auvinen.

“This event—which, in line with campus policy, required participants to practice social-distancing and wear masks—allowed our members and the larger campus community to come together to celebrate literature even in these challenging times,” Hanrahan said. “We began with a discussion of some of the themes of ‘Rough Beauty’ and their connection to our present moment, asking attendees to think about how their relationship to nature and the outdoors has changed since the pandemic started.”

Hanrahan said participants discussed how separation from others has highlighted what nature offers and, in some ways, made it more valued.

After the discussion, Ashley Hess, chapter president and an English major from Martinsburg, introduced some prompts for poetry writing, encouraging participants to write about fall or to use some of the brainstorming templates provided. Participants wrote for about 10 minutes, then were given the opportunity to share their work. Hanrahan said the event allowed students to connect and share ideas in a supportive environment.

“All in all, the event gave us the chance to gather in person safely, talk about ‘Rough Beauty,’ practice some creative writing, and feel a sense of community during a semester where such opportunities are rare,” Hanrahan said.

The $100 award will be used toward chapter activities.

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