Class Rings and Ring Dance
The Class of 1911 was the first at Virginia Tech to have a class ring. However, the Class Ring Tradition truly began in 1912 when the Class of 1914 chose a student committee to design a class ring, which would be unique and meaningful to class members. Today, Virginia Tech is one of only a few colleges and universities that maintains a traditional class ring program. Two major traditions combine to make the Virginia Tech Ring Program unique: the design and the presentation of the rings.
Virginia Tech introduces an entirely newly designed collection for each class. Each year, the Sophomore class selects a Ring Committee responsible for designing their class ring collection. Each collection includes certain elements: the screaming eagle, American flag, campus buildings and an interlocking chain around the bezel. The screaming eagle evolved from a pair of twin eagles used on the first Virginia Tech ring, symbolizing the twin virtues of strength and freedom. The American flag and campus buildings symbolize the enduring heritage of our nation and Virginia Tech. The chain represents "the strength of many united as one." Each Ring Committee adds unique designs reflecting their respective class experiences.
Beginning in the 1990s, each class began naming their collection in honor of an outstanding Virginia Tech personality. During each class' junior year, at the annual Ring Premiere, the collection is unveiled and class members begin ordering their rings. The rings are not delivered until the week of Ring Dance, held in the spring of the class' junior year.
A display case in the Williamsburg Room of Squires Student Center contains Virginia Tech class rings since 1921. The display was dedicated during the 1991 and 1986 class reunion in November of 1996. Other rings are on display in the Alumni Museum of the Holtzman Alumni Center.
A tradition dating from 1934, the Virginia Tech Ring Dance symbolizes a hallmark in a Tech student's career. Upon entering the dance, each couple receives a pair of ribbons in the class colors. The lady wears her date's ring on her wrist with the darker colored ribbon, and the gentleman wears his date's ring on his wrist with the lighter colored ribbon. At the official Ring Exchange, the Corps of Cadets enter the ballroom and stand in the shape of the Class numerals. As each couple exchanges rings, "Moonlight and VPI," written specifically for the Ring Dance by composer Fred Waring and lyricist Charles Gaynor, is sung. As the clock strikes midnight, the evening ends with an elaborate fireworks display on the Drillfield, and the playing of "Silvertaps."
The Class of 1935 held the first Ring Dance on April 27, 1934, where the ring figure, sabre arch, and presentation of the ring by the Junior's date were introduced. Since then, the fame of the Ring Dance has spread across the nation, introducing many memorable highlights. Always, the Ring Dance is a night to remember for those receiving their rings.
"Night after night we "dragged" the rats and learned to flip our sabres correctly. ... Friday finally rolled around and brought our dates... as well as V. M. I.'s ambassadors of good will. The reception at the S. A. B. formally opened our debut and after three years of waiting... the figure - the ring - and the kiss." (from the 1942 Virginia Tech Yearbook)