JC traditions ring true
April 14, 2017
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As junior Emma Potthast looks around, she realizes that it is almost her turn to stand and walk to the front of the stage to receive her class ring. While she was nervous and stressed just moments earlier, a wave of calm hits Potthast, and she confidently strides to the front. Upon returning to her seat and sliding on the gold band, Potthast looks down at her ring finger and smiles.
The JC class ring has been an important part of the school community since the campus first opened in 1964. Ann Marie Bryant, class of ‘87, believes that receiving her ring was an important part of her junior year. “I always loved the ring. I loved being a part of John Carroll, and having that ring was a badge of honor that we had made it to the end of junior year,” she said.
Each year, the school hosts a ceremony when members of the junior class receive their ring.
While the style of the ceremony has changed throughout the years, it remains an important part of the ring festivities. Science teacher Susan Kraft, class of ‘74, remembers her ceremony being held in chapel. The ceremony took place in small groups determined by religion class. It was a “very intimate setting with no more than 20 kids,” Kraft said.
Math teacher Teresa Pleiss, class of ‘04, also remembers her ceremony, although it was different. Pliess’s ceremony was held at night with the whole junior class. She remembers being “the junior class president that year, and I had to give a speech, [and] Mr. Gaudreau gave a speech,” she said. Art teacher Michael Gaudreau, class of ‘70, has been the guest speaker at the junior ring ceremony for many years. Each year, he explains how the JC ring was designed and the circumstances surrounding its creation.
Created for the first graduating class, the ring has never changed in its design, as explained by Gaudreau. Many alumni, including AP English teacher Jenna Silcox, class of ‘91, remember hearing about the design of the ring and its symbolism. “He talked about how it was in the shape of our chapel and how we were supposed to wear it with the opening faced towards us,” she said.
Silcox also remembers “having the chance to go around and turn [the ring.]” The tradition of turning the ring has also been taking place for many years and continues to be an important aspect and custom at JC.
The morning following the ceremony, a breakfast is held in order for the students to get pictures and turn each other’s rings. Junior Abby Bryant loved the breakfast that was held. “Ring breakfast was a lot of fun, especially taking pictures and hanging out with my friends, because it gave us great memories,” she said.
While Ann Marie Bryant, Abby’s mother, does not remember having a breakfast of her own, she enjoys reminiscing her ring memories and experiencing new traditions with her daughter. “I love that [the ring] is something that Abby and I have in common. I am re-living my joy of wearing the ring by seeing how excited she is,” Ann Marie said.
In addition to the ceremony and breakfast, Ring Dance has been held for many years. The venue, however, has differed from year to year. Faith Bahr, class of ‘14, remembers the dance being held in the upper gym with a Candy Land theme. “Ring dance especially was most definitely my favorite part of highschool,” she said. She enjoyed “dancing, eating, and hanging out. I will definitely never forget that.”
Honors U.S. History teacher Darrion Siler, class of ’01, also believes that his Ring Dance was the most fun part of the ring festivities. “The whole night was great,” he said. “The ceremony was nice, but the dance was pretty great.”
Although the festivities that are held to celebrate the school ring have slightly changed, many aspects have remained the same. These aspects include a great sense of community and feeling as though you are part of a legacy. “It helps to develop a greater sense of connection to a legacy that came before you and is your connection to future patriots,” Siler said.
Silcox agrees that the JC ring provides a sense of community. “For me, it just reminds me of where I came from, and it just sort of feels like a big circle to me. I love coming back to John Carroll, and I love the tradition of John Carroll,” she said. “But I also love that it’s changed.”
Taylor Bynion is a Copy Editor for the Patriot and jcpatriot.com.