Traditions forge links that unite Agnes Scott students from semester to semester and decade to decade.
Friends throw newly engaged classmates into the Alumnae Garden’s pond, a gift of the class of 1936.
Chartered in 1915, Agnes Scott’s dramatic group took its name from an Elizabethan theatre in London where many of Shakespeare’s plays were performed. Blackfriars is the oldest continuously operating theatre group in Atlanta, as well as the oldest campus organization. Men were allowed to take part in Blackfriars’ productions beginning in the 1930s. Prior to that time, female students, often in noncostume black skirts, played the male roles.
One of the oldest Agnes Scott traditions, Black Cat began in 1915 as a prank night between first-year students and sophomores. It now marks the end of orientation and the official recognition of the new class in the campus community. Mary Sweet, college physician from 1908-1937, suggested it as a way to eliminate hazing of the first-year students.
Black Cat week begins with the ringing of the bell at midnight Sunday. Each class is assigned a day in which it throws a party in Evans Hall and dresses like its mascot. Black Cat week progresses with a bonfire Thursday night, a junior class production Friday night and the formal dance Saturday night.
- Class colors and mascots: Every year, the incoming class is assigned a color to represent it during its time at Agnes Scott. The colors alternate among red, green, blue and yellow. With this color in mind, each class also picks a mascot. Traditionally, first-year students try to keep their mascot’s identity a secret until the bonfire, while sophomores try to uncover the mascot and present it beforehand to the school.
- Decorations: As the bell rings on Black Cat week at midnight Sunday, each class decorates the campus, both inside and outside of buildings, with its color and mascot.
- Sister classes and songs: Each first-year class becomes the sister class of the junior class at Agnes Scott. Red/blue are sisters and green/yellow are sisters. Each class creates a song representing it and a song showing its love for its sister class. Both are performed at bonfire and Junior Production.
- Bonfire: Bonfire is a chance for all classes to dress like their mascots, sing their songs and show off their class spirit. Bonfire takes place on the Woodruff Quadrangle on Thursday night during Black Cat week. It is at this event that first-year students reveal their mascot.
- Field Day: Field Day gives the classes a final opportunity to compete before Junior Production. Field hockey is the main event—class teams learn the rules of the game and practice together the Sunday before Black Cat week. Other activities include mud wrestling and a water balloon toss. Students who do not wish to participate directly can help their class by showing their spirit on the sidelines!
- Junior Production and the Black Kitty: The junior class writes, directs and performs Junior Production on the Friday of Black Cat week. The entire campus is invited and is seated by class. After Junior Production, the Black Kitty is awarded to the class that performed the best during Black Cat week.
Capping week is evident to everyone on campus. Each year, juniors who wish to participate are paired with a senior. The senior leaves a bag outside the junior’s door every morning filled with crazy clothes and instructions for the day. The week always takes place near the end of the spring semester and is the way seniors “induct” juniors into their senior year.
The Agnes Scott College hymn, God of the Marching Centuries, was written for the centennial of the Decatur Presbyterian Church. However, since men connected to the College wrote the music and lyrics, Agnes Scott claimed the hymn as its own. D. P. McGeachy Sr., who penned the lyrics, served as a longtime College trustee. Professor C. W. Dieckmann wrote the music and named it “Gaines” after the first Agnes Scott President. God of the Marching Centuries is sung at important College occasions. Many alumnae have also chosen the hymn to commemorate important events in their lives, e.g. weddings or, more somberly, funerals.
The Honor System
The Honor System is the cornerstone of the entire structure of Agnes Scott life. It is founded on the support, mature judgment and personal integrity of every student. The Honor System challenges each student to develop high standards of personal conduct, to strive for full intellectual and moral stature and to realize her social and academic responsibility in the community. Learn more
The Hub and “Hub Sings”
The Charles Murphey Candler Building was originally a library and stood on the Woodruff Quadrangle near the corner across from Alston Campus Center. When McCain Library was built in 1936, the Murphey Candler Building was converted to a student center. It served this function for more than 40 years and was always called the “Hub” by students.
For decades, its grand piano was the scene of Hub Sings in which scores of students sang College and Black Cat songs. Seniors, in line with hands on the shoulders of the classmate in front, marched around the main floor in their black gowns acquired for investiture, singing, “We are tired old seniors, weary, worn and blue,” to the tune of Pomp and Circumstance. Hub Sings do not exist today as they once did. The Hub Sing, featuring alumnae and students, is held during Alumnae Weekend in The Hub of Alston Campus Center.
Originating hundreds of years ago in English universities, Senior Investiture is one of the College’s most cherished traditions. During the investiture ceremony, each senior is capped with an academic mortar board as a symbol of her status at the College.
Movies filmed at Agnes Scott
From A Man Called Peter in 1954 to Scream II in 1999, the collegiate architecture and ambiance of the Agnes Scott campus have appealed to moviemakers. Many full-length features, made-for-television movies, episodes of television series and commercials have been shot on campus.
Created by the class of 1958, Ramona Cartwright and George P. Burdell were fictitious students at Agnes Scott College and Georgia Institute of Technology. News is received periodically in the Office of Alumnae Relations on continuing episodes in Ramona’s life. The Atlanta Journal and Constitution was red-faced when an announcement of Ramona and George’s engagement appeared in the late 1950s.
Ringing the bell
All Agnes Scott seniors may ring the bell in Agnes Scott Hall’s tower upon acceptance to graduate school or the offer of a job.
The distinguished American poet, Robert Frost, first visited the College for a single lecture in 1935, at the invitation of Professor Emma Mae Laney. He returned in 1942. Beginning in 1945, he came every year through 1962. Both Agnes Scott students and the Atlanta community turned out in tremendous numbers to hear the poet at standing room only readings in Presser Hall’s Gaines Chapel.
His last 18 visits were stays of several days in which he met with faculty and students, autographed books, delivered a public reading and was a noteworthy presence on campus. He was scheduled to return to Agnes Scott for his 21st visit in January 1963 when he died.
A sculpture of the poet has been placed in the Alumnae Garden near the pond to commemorate the unique relationship he and the College enjoyed. Not too long after his first visit, Frost sent Professor Laney some autographed first editions of his poems. In the ensuing years, he added other works as well as the collections of his famous Christmas cards. Now, the Robert Frost Collection in McCain Library is one of finest collections of his works.
Sophomore Family Weekend and Ring Ceremony
Sophomore Family Weekend began in 1958 for the class of 1960 as Sophomore Parents’ Weekend. The name was changed in the early 1990s. The weekend is a chance for families of sophomores to be honored and entertained and meet the friends and professors of their daughters. The weekend is centered on the ring ceremony Saturday night in Gaines Chapel in Presser Hall. During the ceremony, sophomores, in front of their friends and families, receive their Agnes Scott class rings. Learn more
The Senior Gift Campaign
The Senior Gift Campaign, established in 1989, raises awareness about annual fund philanthropy and the critical role it plays in the success of the college. Each year, a hand-selected student committee encourages all seniors to make a gift to Agnes Scott. Students learn that individual gifts combine to enhance educational opportunities, help relieve the college’s operating budget and decrease reliance on the endowment. High rates of participation in the Senior Gift Campaign reveal that today’s graduates strongly value their role as new stewards of the college. Learn more