By Antonia Agular ’16 and Lucia Agular ’16
A congregation of young women sit stiffly in their seats as their names are called out, one by one. Rings sparkle in the streams of light flooding through the high windows. The Immaculate Heart emblem, a sacred heart pierced by a sword, glints with familiar tenderness.
The upperclasswomen, alumnae, and parents file into the auditorium as the group partakes in an IH tradition, the Ring Ceremony. It is a day devoted solely to members of the junior class as they are recognized for their hard work over the past three years as they near their much awaited title of “senior.” It is a right of passage as each young woman travels on her “path of great purpose.” On this day, the juniors are presented with the class ring to represent their full embrace into the Immaculate Heart sisterhood. Seniors outstretch their hands and pass on the legacy of faith, courage, and love. It is a very proud day.
But this year, it is different. It appears a staggering number of juniors did not buy the school ring. Why is that?
Turns out this is not a new trend. With each upcoming ring ceremony, fewer students are purchasing their class ring. This year a bit more than half of the 106 students in the junior class bought the symbolic memento for the ceremony.
For many the ring symbolizes a shared unity between the past and the future generations of women of great heart and right conscience.
For example, junior Sophia Weiland flaunts her newly bejeweled hand and explains, “To my family the ring is very important. My mother is an alum of Immaculate Heart, and so it holds a lot of significance for her that I get one as well.”
Likewise senior Olivia Ramirez looks down at her ring and says, “It holds a deep sense of community,” as she reminisces about her own Ring Day. She later elaborates on the feeling of interconnectedness she shares with her fellow IH sisters, proudly declaring, “My older sister has one too!” She, also, eagerly notes the excitement of meeting IH alums, in what seem to be random places, and having the chance to relish in the bond of shared loved for their school.
Many students have complained that the ring is just too expensive. However, there are other problems plaguing the once esteemed tradition. When asked about her decision not to buy a ring, junior Carolyn Najera explains, “Mainly, it’s due to a lack of motivation. Personally, I would rather just bring my own ring that has a symbolic importance in my family – my grandma’s heirloom – than get a class ring that I won’t wear.”
Has the concept of buying a ring become just an obligation?
Another problem is the diminishing link between the junior and senior classes that in previous years was vital to the sanctity of the day.
For example, when asked about the disbanded tradition of ring sisters, senior Gracie Smith exclaims, “What does that even mean anymore?!” She then expresses how she is “utterly disappointed” that the tradition is no longer formally part of the ceremony. Her close friend and fellow classmate, Gwendolyn Ozols-Remmetter, chimes in saying, “Without the individuality and unity that the day once had, [the ceremony] is stripped of its meaning.”
In the past, the incorporation of ring sisters illuminated the necessity of community, and now it is just optional. With the loss of other traditions – such as turning your sister’s ring and gussying up for the big day – the Ring Ceremony no longer holds the same symbolic connotations that it once had. Junior Taite Hylton says, “It’s just another day at school. Nothing special.”
As Immaculate Heart moves forward alongside a rapidly-changing society, we need to learn how to preserve our unifying traditions and shed those holding our school back. Let’s retain the sisterhood that makes our school special.
picture from hjimmaculategeart.myshopify.com