Wednesday, May 21, 2014

High School Class Rings & Senior Class Trips

The Class Ring (also known as a graduation, graduate, senior or grad ring) is a ring worn by students and alumni to commemorate their graduation, generally from a high school, college or university.

From the Complete Book of Etiquette by Amy Vanderbilt, the protocol for wearing of a class ring read: For as long as the wearer is in school, the insignia should face the wearer to remind him/her of the goal of graduation. Upon graduation, the class ring gains the status of a "badge of honor," similar to a diploma.  Graduation entitles the wearer to display the insignia facing outward so that it faces other viewers. During school, the focus is on self-development and academic goals; upon graduation, they enter the wider world and put what was learned to work in shaping  it.

A notable exception to this protocol is the custom to wear the rings on the left hand in observance of the ancient belief, which also underlay the Anglo-American and Jewish custom of wearing wedding bands on the left hand, that a vein connects the left finger to the heart.

This history is interesting, but what is more notable is how the ring was used in announcing that you were “going steady!” Remember that? When a gal and guy professed their love for each other, they gave one another their class ring. (An exception here is if there was an age gap . . . the guy was a junior or senior and the gal was a freshman or sophomore, which meant they did not have class rings yet). The guy would usually wear it on a chain around his neck because the ring was too small for his finger. The gal used several creative ways to wear the large ring. Most popular way was to wrap yarn (colors varied) around the back of the ring to make it fit on her finger. I can’t tell you how many gals I saw wearing this humongous ring on their tiny hand.  And the ring would clunk against the desk, and the yarn would look terrible when it got wet.

I also remember witnessing volatile confrontations between the steady couple, when she would hank the ring off her finger and throw it at the most likely stunned guy. I wonder who took off the yarn. Mom, probably did. 

When I was researching the history on class rings, I was sadden to read how many sources there are to help you get rid of your ring. Need money? Find out how much gold is in the ring, minus the stone, which apparently does not have much worth. Why would anyone want to sell their class ring, especially if it isn’t going to result in a monetary windfall. This situation is what this blog is all about . . . preserving your history. And what better item can you name that represents a major time in your life where you can still recall both the good and bad experiences that shaped your life. Why not wear it one day and see how many conversations get started. If it doesn’t fit, like mine doesn’t, wear it on a chain or bracelet. Or just put it in your family museum, next to the yearbook and graduation picture.
                                    The Class Trip (also known as the Senior Trip.)

Tried as I might, I could not remember where I took my Senior Class Trip to. All I could recall was some sort of beach and small amusement park. Living in Illinois, there were many lakes, so I knew it had to be one of them. As I write this blog, I constantly consult  my husband Keith. He seems to remember things I don’t. So I asked him and he knew right away. It was Bass Lake in Indiana. “How did you know that?” Laughing he says, “We went there several years ago.” Stunned, I asked, “When?” Shaking his head at my memory loss, he replied, “Don’t you remember when we all went up to see my cousin Paul and his family who have a cabin at that lake?”  “Yes, but I don’t remember the amusement park being there.” He continued, “Paul said it was torn down years ago. He pointed out the area from his boat and you said you remembered it.” “Well, by gosh by golly. I did, and then I started to remember the trip, and know why I forgot about it. I didn’t have an exceptional good time. It was hot, the water was cold, and I wasn’t particularly fond of paddle boats and rides. Most of all, I remember not having a boyfriend to enjoy this trip with me like most of the other gals did. Oh well, C’st la vie!
Then I asked Keith if he went on a senior class trip. “Nope. Can’t recall that we even had one.”
Things had certainly changed a lot from the class trips of yore compared to today. Our daughter, Tiffeni, graduated in 1988. Her class was very small since it was a private school in Florida. Back then, Disney World hosted Senior Class Trip events for all the high schools in Florida for one night in June. She recalls the park closed early for the graduates, who then had the run of the place. She said she had a ball. Or son, Charlie, had an exceptional class trip as well. He was a Distant Learning Student with a school in California. The Graduation ceremony with a Prom the night before was at the school, so we all flew out there from Virginia. Being that Charlie did not know any of the other students, his sister was his prom date. They had a blast.

Class rings and class trips commemorate more than the end of the most influential four years in a person’s life. The material ring perhaps can still be worn and the class trip memories recalled. Both should have a place in your family museum; the ring on display with your senior class picture and maybe a scrapbook with photos of the class trip. Again, these need to be preserved and handed down. And what fun you will have recalling these milestones in your live.

Do you still have your class ring and remember your senior class trip? I hope so.

Next Post:  Yearbooks


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