Rally Day is Thursday, February 23; all Smith classes are cancelled

Rally Day is among the grandest and oldest of traditions at Smith College. The annual celebration began the first year the college opened, in February 1876, as a day for students and the college community to gather, rally and celebrate George Washington’s birthday.

Today, 135 years later, the beloved celebration continues, with some old traditions intact, and a few new ones added. For those keeping track, here’s a rundown of Rally Day traditions, starting with the new.

New Rally Day traditions:

The commencement speaker is announced during Rally Day. Rally Day provides the perfect venue and timing for students to be the first to hear who their commencement speaker will be. This tradition began four years ago.

The Smith Traditions tea. If you want to know what Rally Day is all about, come to the Smith Traditions tea, featuring a presentation by college archivist Nanci Young, on Monday, Feb. 21, 4-5 p.m., in Neilson Browsing Room. Refreshments served.

Rally Day Convocation streamed live on the Web. For the second year, Rally Day will be filmed and available to view online in real time (available as of Feb. 23 at 1:30 p.m.).

Seniors gather as a class before Rally Day ceremony. For the third straight year, seniors are called to gather outside the Campus Center Carroll Room on Rally Day, Thursday, Feb. 23, at 12:45 p.m., and walk to John M. Greene Hall together. Each senior will receive a “Smith College 2012” pennant to wave during the celebration.

Smith Spirit Squad cheers in the ceremony. The Smith Spirit Squad will set the rallying tone by leading the senior class to JMG, cheering all the way.

Longstanding Rally Day traditions:

The Rally Day Jamboree! This year, all students are invited to the Rally Day Jamboree on Wednesday, Feb. 22, the night before Rally Day, from 7 to 10:30 p.m. in the Campus Center. Fun activities and great food await!

Seniors wearing funky hats and graduation gowns for the first time. Among the most cherished traditions, seniors (sorry non-seniors, not yet) don some of the craziest, loudest, most colorful hats they can dream up during the Rally Day ceremony, while parading for the first time in the gowns they will wear on commencement day.

The Smith College Medal. A vaunted tradition, the Smith College Medal annually honors outstanding Smith alumnae who “exemplify in their lives and work the true purpose of a liberal arts education.” Cheer on your fellow Smithies.

Faculty and Gavel Awards. Smith students nominate and recognize one tenured and one non-tenured faculty member with the annual Faculty Teaching Award, and honor two Smith staff members with the Gavel Award.