Recent Alumnus Receives Young Ringer Award

A recent Kalamazoo College alumnus is among this year’s recipients of a national change-ringing award named after a longtime and beloved former K professor. 

The North American Guild of Change Ringers has presented Xavier Silva ’24 with the Jeff Smith Memorial Young Ringer Award. Since 2019, the honor has recognized guild members 22 years of age or younger who have rung at least one quarter peal in the past year. 

Silva, a math and computer science double major at K, has rung three quarter peals, the first in October 2023. A quarter peal contains a series of at least 1,250 permutations rung in rapid succession according to rules that ensure no permutations are repeated. A quarter peal takes about 45 minutes of concentration and cooperation among a band of ringers, creating beautiful sounds. 

Silva arrived at K as a Heyl scholar and quickly began change ringing for several public events. During his senior year, he was the K student contact for the community ringers at Stetson Chapel and coordinated the Kalamazoo College Ringers for weekly Community Reflections gatherings and the Day of Gracious Living. 

“Change ringing has given me a meaningful experience through the challenge of ringing itself and through the people I’ve met,” Silva said. “It has combined two things I’m passionate about, music and math, in a challenging yet incredibly fun way. There is also an incredible international community that has welcomed me with open arms through a shared love and experience. If I had never started bell ringing, I would have missed out on the community that has surrounded and supported me. It has been a pleasure to ring at K.”

Young Ringer Award recipient with two others
The North American Guild of Change Ringers has presented Xavier Silva ’24 (middle) with the Jeff Smith Memorial Young Ringer Award.

The ancient art of English change ringing involves a group ringing bells in structured, unique permutations in rapid succession. The practice requires training, concentration and teamwork and leads to great satisfaction and strong interpersonal bonds. 

In addition to teaching mathematics, Jeff Smith taught hundreds of students to ring changes and inspired the College to install change ringing bells at Stetson Chapel on campus. Smith died in April 2019 at the age of 88, but spent nearly 30 years of his career at K. A scholarship in his name now supports students in financial need. 

For more information on the North American Guild of Change Ringers, visit its website