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Monday, February 16, 2004

A,N,S,U (same additional list as previous SAP release)

Goshen College Sapometer predicts March 10 as first day of spring;
Punxsutawney Phil protests, then joins efforts

View photos from SAP Day.

GOSHEN, Ind. -- With several feet of snow still on the ground and temperatures near zero, winter may look and feel like it is here to stay. But come March 10, spring and sun will arrive in Goshen complete with college students -- and maybe a few professors -- in shorts.

Goshen College's Scientists/Scholars Advocating Precision (SAPs) gathered on Feb. 16 around the Official Maple Tree of Goshen on the college's campus to predict the scientifically derived first day of spring for the fifth year in a row. The SAPs used a specially designed Sapometer to weigh the strength of winter -- a bucket with a stuffed groundhog surrounded by a representative amount of ice -- against the strength of spring -- a bucket with a representative sample of the maple sap collected since Feb. 2.

As Head SAPs Sasha Dyck (Sr., Montreal, Quebec, Canada) and Kelcie Glick (Jr., Glenwood, N.M.) placed the buckets on the apparatus, more than 150 weather-braving students, faculty, staff and reporters looked on as the Sapometer scales tipped to March 10.

The scientifically-based prognostication was nearly interrupted by the appearance of a large groundhog (played by senior theater major Ben Friesen from Goshen) with a picket sign that said, "Support your local groundhog," and who was shouting about the possibility of the SAPs taking away his one day of work a year. The SAPs, using their reconciliation skills that the college is known for, encouraged the groundhog to see that the groups have in common their ancestors. Groundhog Day originated with the Pennsylvania Dutch and Goshen College is an institution rooted in the Anabaptist-Mennonite tradition. The Head SAP, Dyck, then welcomed the groundhog to join their efforts and promised him at least two days of work a year.

After the groundhog agreed to help out, Goshen Mayor Allan Kauffman, bundled up and wearing snow pants, proclaimed that the city of Goshen would recognize March 10 as the official first day of spring within the city limits. "I hereby give my official permission, to whatever extent it is determined that such permission is worth a whit, to Goshen residents to wear shorts on said day as they go about their normal routines," Kauffman declared.

A Goshen College men's choir then sang about the demise of groundhogs and attendees ate Krispy Kreme maple donuts as President Shirley H. Showalter, Kauffman and the pacified groundhog sat down for a breakfast of pancakes with maple syrup in celebration of the upcoming spring.

Kauffman, himself a Goshen College graduate in natural science, said his confidence in the SAPs far outweighed any shadowy superstitions associated with small-brained, ground-dwelling creatures, and challenged the mayor of Punxsutawney, Pa., to reconsider his reliance on a rodent for the prediction of spring's arrival.

Since SAP Day's inception, spring in Goshen, Ind., has been declared with amazing precision. In 2000, the newly invented "Sapometer" measuring device pointed to Feb. 29 as the first day of spring -- a day on which the National Weather Service recorded record high temperatures of 67 degrees in nearby South Bend (Ind.) and the mercury in Goshen topped 70 degrees.

In 2001, the SAPs predicted a March 7 spring. Despite temperatures in the 40s, the prognosticators claimed success, noting the high number of Goshen College students and faculty wearing short pants or skirts, and a college choir paid vocal tribute to its success. On a sunny Feb. 15, 2002, the Sapometer provided a direct affront to the ground hog by announcing that spring had already arrived. And last year, on Feb. 17, 2003, the Sapometer predicted a mid-March arrival of spring, bringing out the entire Science Department faculty in shorts to eat their ice cream in the sun and watch the flowers start to shoot out of the ground.


The groundhog has been accurate only 39 percent of the time -- or as accurate as his vague prediction can be.

It isn't just any science program that will allow itself to look like "saps" -- but Goshen's reputation in the sciences can stand maple tree-tall. Last year, 100 percent of Goshen College students who applied to medical school were accepted, and Goshen College has been named among 190 schools listed in Peterson's Top Colleges for Sciences.

Goshen College, established in 1894, is a four-year residential Christian liberal arts college rooted in the Anabaptist-Mennonite tradition. The college's Christ-centered core values -- passionate learning, global citizenship, compassionate peacemaking and servant-leadership -- prepare students as leaders for the church and world. Recognized for its unique Study-Service Term program, Goshen has earned citations of excellence in Barron's Best Buys in Education, Kaplan's "Most Interesting Colleges" guide and U.S.News & World Report's "America's Best Colleges" edition, which named Goshen a "least debt college." Visit https://www.goshen.edu/.

Editors: For more information, contact Jodi H. Beyeler at (574) 535-7572 or jodihb@goshen.edu.


Goshen College
1700 S Main St
Goshen, Indiana 46526
phone: +1 (574) 535-7569
fax: 535-7660
web: arachnid@goshen.edu
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