Alleluia! This is the day the Lord has made!
For many students, Ring Day is the highlight of their time at St. Joseph's Academy. The entire school community shares in the joyful celebration of this momentous occasion, what juniors think of as their official inauguration into the legion of Academy graduates who have gone before them and a precursor to senior year and their status as leaders of the school.
The tradition of the distributing of a school ring dates at least to the fall of 1924, first mentioned in that year’s yearbook, yet until the late 1960s, it was the seniors who received the ring. The treasured ceremony that occurs today evolved over decades, each era contributing a piece to the tradition. The current ring of gold with green glass etched with the school seal was adopted in 1965, marking its 50th year this past spring.
Months of preparation go into planning the day. For Mother and Daughter it is time to share in the excitement of selecting for that special day a dress for the ceremony and an evening dress for the dance. For the class, as a whole, it means weeks of work by committees dedicated to preparing the liturgy, as well as the program and banners for the Mass and ceremony. Juniors who are members of the school chorus are also featured singers and make special preparations for this role.
A day or two before the BIG day, each junior receives the special gift of a handmade ring box from a sophomore.
The day begins with an all-school Mass in the gym with readings and banners relating to a chosen theme. In the ceremony following Mass, each junior is called individually to come forward to receive her ring from the school president, a symbol of the love and loyalty the students and the school share for each other.
Following the ceremony, juniors and their parents enjoy a reception given by the Freshman Class. At this time, it is tradition that family, friends, classmates, and faculty take turns turning students’ rings once each toward the pinkie as the individual student keeps count. The goal -- their graduation year!
While the rest of the school heads to class, juniors get the afternoon off, often enjoying lunch with family members before preparing to return to school that evening for a semi-formal dance, a gift of the Senior Class.
As with any long-running tradition, layers are added over time that enhance its richness. For several years, a few juniors each year receive the ring their mother, grandmother, or aunt wore when she attended the Academy. When this is the case, mention is made of it as the student receives her ring. A new layer added in 2015 was that of reaching out to grads through social media, inviting them to participate in Wear Your St. Joe Ring Day by taking a photo of themselves wearing with their ring and posting it on the school Facebook page.
Like other Academy traditions, Ring Day is a community event that creates treasured memories for years to come.