Agnes Scott Traditions: Past and Present

One of the most special things about Agnes Scott is the importance of tradition. Agnes Scott is such a historical campus and the traditions are what bring Scotties together the most. A lot of the traditions we have today were started in the beginning of the 20th century, but some traditions started around the same time have not been carried into this century.

Black Cat

Black Ring Mafia (1919-present)

One of the most talked about traditions and events at Agnes Scott is the Ring Ceremony. Every Scottie looks forward to their sophomore year when they can finally be a part of the Black Ring Mafia. The first class to have the rings was the class of 1919. The rings they had were not the rings we see today, though. Our present design was first brought to the table in 1934 and the class of 1935 was the first to wear them. When the present design was first introduced, it was only available in gold. The biggest difference from the past to now is that when the ring tradition first started, the rings were given to seniors. In 1954, they changed it to juniors. In 1965, Agnes made it for sophomores. The Ring Ceremony did not begin until 1989. Before 1989, students picked up their ring without an event. The Associate Dean of Students, Karen Green 86’, decided this was a time in a Scottie’s life that needed a ceremony and prompted the first Ring Ceremony.

Ring Ceremony 1994

Ring Ceremony 2001


Black Cat (1915-present)

Black Cat in the beginning was much different than what we see now. Black Cat was a one day event only for first and second-years. Black Cat was a battle between the years created to eliminate the harsh hazing of freshman. The classes competed in “stunts” or presentations. The winner of the battle received a bronze statue of a cat, hence the name Black Cat. The one-night event has evolved over the past 100 years into a full week event involving the whole campus.

Freshman Stunt 1923

Sophomore Stunt 1923

Black Cat 1974

Ringing of the Bell (1993 - present)

The bell that is held in the Bell Tower is inscribed with the original motto of the college: “In fide vestra vertutem in virtute autem scientiam,” meaning, “add to your faith, virtue, and to your virtue, knowledge.” Agnes Scott has not always had the bell. Before the installation of the bell in 1986, the Bell Tower was called the “Main Tower.” After the bell was installed, it was rung to signal convocations and other special events. It wasn’t until 1992 that the Career Advisory Board started the beautiful tradition of students ringing the bell upon knowledge of post-graduation plans.

(Can you spot the bell?)


Senior Opera (1923-1968)

The tradition started with the senior’s performance of “Midwinter Night’s Scream.” All the operas were written, directed, and performed by the seniors. The operas were spin offs of famous operas.

1925 Opera

1949 Opera


Junior Jaunt (1954-1980)

This event was a day where juniors put on events and performances, and at the end of the day there was a dance. This event also served as a fundraiser. The week leading up to the Junior Jaunt, each class competed to raise the most money for charity. Whichever class representative raised the most money was crowned Junior Jaunt Queen. One of the biggest fundraisers was Suppressed Desires Day. For Suppressed Desires Day, students would be able to pay for a badge which allowed them to have certain privileges on this day. Some privileges in 1954 include: being allowed to wear jeans around campus and to class, use faculty elevators, ring the fire bell, call faculty by their first name, and scream in the library.

Junior Jaunt 1959

Junior Jaunt 1965

May Day (1903-1960)

May Day is held on May 1st and is a celebration of Spring usually celebrated with dancing, singing, and festivities. The first May Day was held in 1903 when Agnes Scott College was still Agnes Scott Institute. When May Day was first held, it was a small event. It did not become a campus wide event until 1913 when the campus YMCA chapter organized the event. Some specific events of Agnes’ May Day celebration were the storytelling of mythological creatures, which was written by a student, and the election of the May Day Queen.

Looking into all of these traditions makes us think what kind of traditions we might start that will be carried through for future generations of Scotties. It will be interesting to see what the future Scotties change. If we had a Scottie from the early 20th century see our Black Cat now it might be unrecognizable.

   We owe a huge thanks to the McCain Library staff! All photos and information are courtesy of the McCain Library archives and Research Guides.