Creative Headwear: Rally Day Hat Contest Returns

Jordan Houstan '16 is congratulated by President Kathleen McCartney for winning "most creative" in last year's Rally Day Hat Contest.

Crowns, baseball caps and construction helmets are just some of the creative headwear that Smithies will sport during the annual march to John M. Greene Hall for Rally Day celebrations of alumnae Smith Medalists.

At this year’s Rally Day on Thursday, Feb. 23, seniors hoping to someday receive their own Smith Medal can try for a smaller bit of glory by competing in the college’s second annual Rally Day Hat Contest.

Dressing up on Rally Day has been a tradition for the graduating class since 1944, when Smithies first began wearing their complete graduation garb—cap and all—to Rally Day events.

The Smith Fund launched the hat contest last year to celebrate a more recent tradition of seniors wearing self-designed hats to the annual all-college gathering.

Hat contest finalists line up at last year’s Rally Day convocation.

“The senior tradition of designing and wearing your own hat is such an exciting exhibition of Smith spirit that holding a contest seemed like the perfect opportunity to highlight some of the most inventive creations,” explained Katie Averill, assistant director of The Smith Fund. “Last year was the first time there was a hat contest as part of the Rally Day festivities and we’re happy to once again be a part of this special day.”

Seniors interested in participating in the contest should arrive at the Campus Center—with hats on hand!—between 12:45 p.m. and 1:15 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 23.

Prizes will be awarded in two categories: best use of the “We Are Smith” Rally Day theme, and most creative. Smith Fund staff will choose finalists to be invited onstage during the convocation for judging by the faculty. Winners—who will receive Campus Center Café gift cards—will be announced at the end of the ceremony.

Members of the the class of 2017 are already looking forward to the chance to show off their creative side and come together with the college community.

“I’ve been watching seniors make wacky hats for the past three years, so I am ready for this moment,” said Sarah Robbins ’17. “It’s a great way to let loose and feel distinctive while also connecting with Smith’s community.”

“I haven’t picked my hat yet, but I think it’s a wonderful way for graduating seniors to get creative and express their personalities and things that are important to them,” said Hira Humayun ’17.

Rally Day, which began in 1876 as a celebration of George Washington’s birthday, is now a gathering to honor alumnae Smith Medalists for exemplifying in their lives and work the “true purpose” of a liberal arts education.

The 2017 Smith Medalists are:

  • social activist Gloria Steinem ’56
  • economist Laura D’Andrea Tyson ’69
  • cardiac pulmonologist and surgeon Vickie Shannon ’79
  • broadcast news executive Ellen Weiss ’81
  • winemaker/winery owner Helen Sebring Keplinger ’94.