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Culver’s Ringing Ceremony gets a new look on a new day, different site

Tom Coyne

Ceremony held on Eppley Auditorium lawn

June 1, 2023

Culver Academies has a new tradition in the making, reimagining its Ringing Ceremony when 11th graders are presented their class rings.

The ceremony this year was held outdoors on the lawn in front of Eppley Auditorium on Friday night, instead of being held indoors at the Steinbrenner Recreational Center at the end of Final Ball on Saturday night, as it has been in recent years.

Culver Academies leaders wanted the change because the ceremony was too chaotic with everyone crowding into the middle of the gym. Some parents complained they didn’t get a good view.

“Because no one ever knew where you were going to be on the floor,” said Aiden Froh ’24 (Fon Du Lac, Wisconsin). “So, if your parents were trying to watch you, they didn’t know where you’d be.”

Culver is known for its traditions, though, and students were reluctant to change.

“It’s that debate of where can we learn to accept change and the change of tradition? Because obviously tradition is a huge aspect of Culver,” said Ella Eckerle ’24 (Indianapolis). “So it’s learning when can we accept change in tradition.”

The original plan was to make a change last year, but some students complained their “ringers” already had made travel arrangements and wouldn’t be at Culver on time. Juniors are usually presented their rings by seniors or a Culver graduate.

Liv Fumich ’24 (Lima, Ohio) said she was aware some students were unhappy and as a class representative wanted to be on the committee that came up with a solution.

“I wanted to do what I could to help formulate a ceremony that best suits everybody’s interests, wants and needs,” she said.

Juniors say they are excited to be part of creating a new tradition.

“It’s something we didn’t want, but we took advantage of it and planned it and were able to make it our own,” Froh said. “I think people are excited it will be a new tradition.”

The ceremony began at 7 p.m. Friday, June 2, with students in Dress A uniforms processing in two lines down the steps outside of Eppley Auditorium. They faced each other on the lawn. The students choose where they would be in the line so they will be around friends.

“We wanted to be rung near our best friends,” Froh said.

Students chose their spots during rehearsal, so family would know where they wiould. The family, friends and lower classmen were on the outskirts watching.

“It looks more formal because in the gym people were scattered all around,” Froh said.

Culver also had bells made with “Class of 2024” inscribed on them, so future classes will know when the tradition began. The bells will be rung by freshmen and sophomore class representatives to mark the start of the ceremony and the actual ringing.


Bells were made for the new Ringing Ceremony.

Eckerle said part of the idea behind that is to get the underclassmen excited about the ceremony.

“We want them to think: ‘I want to be involved in that one day,’ ” Eckerle said.

Fumich said students are excited about the ceremony being outside.

The hope is the ceremony will take on more importance as a standalone event with more focus on it instead of being an afterthought between the CMA Officers Figure, the CGA Leader Charge and the Beason Run.   

Outgoing seniors had Beason to themselves on Friday night, just as always.

Culver is keeping the tradition of seniors running to Beason Hall at the end of Final Ball.

Several Culver alumni told students the way the ceremony has been run in recent years is not a longtime tradition. Dorothea Ragsdale ’74, a senior instructor of Spanish, said the first time she saw the Ringing Ceremony at Final Ball “I was disappointed at the lack of gravitas, given that Culver is so keen on its traditions.”

She said during her junior year, seniors decided the ringing of the junior girls would be “a memorable and dignified event.” She said there were about 30 girls in her class and only about a dozen took part.

She said it was held at the of the Eppley fountain, where there was a semi-circle of candlelight.

“Our dorm prefects talked about the ring, reminded us to be mindful and thoughtful about our commitments and responsibilities for the upcoming year and then each pair of girls gave/received their ring,” she said. 

She said the senior who presented her ring, Sarah Elliott ’73, gave her “a lovely book of poems which I still treasure today.”

“This was one of the first traditions that we hoped would survive,” she said.

Leadership education instructor Don Fox ’75 said when he graduated cadets received their ring from a senior, preferably someone from their unit. He said the ceremony in 1974 was “very brief, void of solemnity and pretty forgettable.”

Fox said a student in a class he teaches recently complained to him about the new ceremony, saying “the ringing ceremony is about us.” 

Fox said his reply was the ceremony isn’t about the Class of ’24. 

“It was about the 10,000-plus living graduates who wear the ring and what it stands for and the thousands of others, who have worn it and are no longer with us,” he said. 

He said he’s had conversations with two Culver graduates, his daughter Jody Katz ’10 along with a former Culver Military Academy student who graduated in 2018 who was a mentee, and they both said they are in favor of the new ceremony.

“Their consensus was that the ‘chaos,’ as they put it, of getting the ring at Final Ball and the Beason Run was ‘beneath the dignity’ of the ring,” Fox said. 

Students say they hope the new tradition lasts.

“Leaving our legacy and creating a new ceremony I think is really special,” Eckerle said. 

Fox said the “power and mystique of the ring are only fully appreciated in the years after one passes through the Gate or the Arch.”

He said he’s been asked countless times about his ring, and he is inevitably asked why he wears his high school ring. He said his reply is simple:

“If you had gone to my high school, you would too.” 


Deisy Lorca, Terell Cooley, Joyney Lu, and Linda Lin display their new class rings.


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