A Peek Into this Unique Agnes Scott Tradition
The ASC Decoded series seeks to explain the unique parts of Agnes Scott’s identity that students may have never heard of. Today, we tackle the Agnes Scott and Agnes Scott ring, a tradition dating back to the early 20th century.
This weekend, the current Agnes Scott Class of 2025, also known as our sophomore class, will join the ranks of the many Agnes Scott students before them in receiving their Agnes Scott ring. In advance of the Sophomore Ring Ceremony, we thought we’d share a little bit of the history and importance of the ring.
Agnes Scott students have been wearing class rings for nearly as long as Agnes Scott has been establish, with the earliest ring currently existing in McCain Library’s Special Collections dating back to 1919. The earliest rings are inconsistent in design, with many of them simple gold signet rings with the seal of the college.
In 1934, however, the design was changed and finalized into the design that students now recognize, also known as the “black onyx ring.”
The ring features a square black onyx stone with a garland border and “ASC” engraved into the stone. The year of graduation is also engraved into the stone. Variations are available of this design, with some having engravings on the inside and different metal colors being available, but the black onyx stone is a great uniter, belonging to Agnes Scott graduates from 1935 to now.
The ring itself hasn’t changed since 1934. But the reception of the ring has changed dramatically since then. Early on in the 20th century, the ring was given to the senior class in the fall of their senior year. In 1954, it transitioned into the junior year, and in 1965 it solidified into the spring of the sophomore year.
Prior to 1989, there was no formal ceremony for the reception of the ring; students would simply go to an office and pick it up. In 1989, then associate dean of students and alumna Karen Green ‘86 began the Sophomore Ring Ceremony, recognizing the importance of the ring to alumnae and current students. The ceremony features alumni, faculty and staff speakers and the presentation of the ring, and sophomore students are encouraged to invite parents, family and other supporters to see them receive their rings.
Students don’t simply wear the rings, however; there is a protocol. When sophomores receive their rings, they wear them with the engraved “ASC” facing them. When times are tough (papers are due, studying needs to be done, etc.), students are encouraged to look at their ring and remember what they are working toward. During commencement ceremonies at the end of their time at Agnes Scott, students are then invited to turn their ring around so that “ASC” is facing the world, a symbol to others of their accomplishments and hard work.
Alums of Agnes Scott are often referred to as the “Black Ring Mafia” because of the ring ceremony. Because of this, there are numerous stories of alums finding each other (or connecting with others who know of the ring) simply because of seeing that black onyx stone on a hand.
About the writer:
Rachel West is the Director of Enrollment Marketing for Agnes Scott College. Her greatest jealousy in life is that she did not attend Agnes Scott and thus does not have a black ring