Last Rally Day
For senior Anna Rockower
(front row, second from right), celebrating here with
fellow Jordan House seniors, Rally Day 2013 was a mix
of excitement, friendship, anticipation and a little
sadness that it will all soon be over.
By Anna Rockower ‘13
started at 4 p.m. with a clothes hanger. It was February
20, the day before Rally Day, and I suddenly realized I needed
to create something, anything, to put on my head for the
I had to do it fast.
Some might define Rally Day
as a day when classes are canceled, a day for sleeping in
or catching up on homework. Others may recognize its origin
as a celebration of George Washington’s birthday. I’ve heard it called everything
Day” to “the day seniors wear hats.”
While I realize it means something
different to each person, it wasn’t until
this year—my senior year—that I discovered what Rally Day represents to me.
staying up late the night before Rally Day, bending that
wire clothes hanger into the shape of a wreath, sewing ribbons
and flowers to it, and stitching down frayed corners, I opened
my eyes to February 21 in eager anticipation of the day’s events. I ran into the Jordan House hallway knocking on my friends’ doors.
Everyone was awake, excited, nervous, and hungry.
After throwing on our clothes
and rummaging for graduation gowns, we Jordan seniors clumsily
carted armfuls of champagne bottles and orange juice cartons
into the dining room. We enjoyed bagels and fruit as we filled
mugs and mason jars with mimosas and toasted the next stage
of our lives. I saw all around me dear friends—some that I’ve known
since orientation week my first year—and felt a growing sense of warmth and comfort.
One friend stood and gave an
impassioned speech filled with pride and hope. “We
did it,” she exclaimed, “we made it through college—we are going to graduate
and, in theory, we will get jobs!” We cheered and laughed because it was Rally
Day and the sun was shining and we were all together in a place we have called
home for the past four years.
It was time to leave for the
day’s events. We poured
out of Jordan House, spurning the February winds by chanting our house cheer,
the taste of mimosas still lingering. But there is a limit to the heat provided
by mimosas, and by the time we reached the Campus Center, we were stiff from
the cold. We warmed up by waving our “Smith Seniors 2013” pennants over our carefully
adorned heads, me with my small, handmade crown among billowing sun hats, headbands
housing buoyant antennae and other creative headwear.
We moved on to John M.
Greene Hall and listened to President Christ’s final Rally Day speech, cheering
upon learning that Arianna Huffington would be our commencement speaker.
Christ spoke, responsibility pressed on my shoulders, and
a sense of duty planted itself in my conscience. She reminded
me that I can make a difference in my lifetime no matter
what career I choose.
As we shuffled out of the auditorium
toward the reception in the Campus Center, I didn’t notice the cold winds that rustled my
gown and left my hair disheveled. I felt as though I was living each moment as
a memory. Perhaps it was because I knew I would never forget this momentous day—or
maybe it was just the left over glow of mimosas. Either way, the images of my
senior Rally Day are securely rooted in my mind.
I spent the rest of the day
with my fellow Jordan seniors. We braved the winds for a
trip downtown, where we continued to reminisce over chips
and salsa. As the familiar comfort settled in, I became aware
that these days were waning. My throat swelled as I squeezed
the hand of my best friend, whom I met the first day of orientation.
She looked at me and gave a smile that showed she understood.
No words were needed.
A silence fell over the table
as we all shared the feeling.
Before Rally Day 2013, I never
experienced this type of sadness—one that grows from deep appreciation for this
remarkable institution, from having the opportunity to build friendships that
will never weaken, and from spending four years of my life surrounded by inspirational
and intelligent beings that make me proud to be a Smithie.