(Editor’s note: Connor Day graduated from Clinton High School in 2011. She is in her second year at Agnes Scott College, a liberal arts women’s college located in Decatur, GA, in the metropolitan Atlanta area. She is one of the first recipients of the Simple Gifts scholarship in Sampson County. Each scholar this year will be telling a college story.)
Campus life at Agnes Scott is founded on traditions that have been active on our campus for decades. The square black onyx rings we receive in our sophomore year have not varied in design since they were introduced in the 1920s. The walls of the main tower that hold the bell we ring when we receive our first job and graduate school offers show inscriptions dating back to the 1980s. Although these lasting, consistent traditions are very important to everyone connected to Agnes Scott, our annual Black Cat spirit week is one tradition that has evolved quite a bit from its start in 1915.
Black Cat is celebrated on campus in the first week of October. It began as a prank war between the first-year and sophomore classes, but now has grown into a week-long (friendly) competition between all four classes. Each class is assigned a color – blue, green, red, or yellow. We have the same color during all four years at Agnes, and the color of the graduating senior class becomes the color of the upcoming first-year class the next year. The first-years also must choose a mascot when they arrive. The new mascot is supposed to be kept a secret until Bonfire night on the Thursday of Black Cat. However, to uphold the tradition of the war between the younger two classes that started this fiasco, it is the job of the sophomore class to “out” the first years before this night. As a sophomore this year, we succeeded in revealing the class of 2016 as The Muses. Joining them are the sophomores as the green Tinkerbelles, the juniors as the red Foxes, and the seniors as the yellow Valkyries. In addition, the first-year and junior classes are regarded as sister classes, as well as the sophomores and the seniors.
The entire week is based upon each class representing and supporting their class color and mascot better than the other classes. We are scored throughout the week by a committee unknown to us on how well we execute this spirit. It all begins at midnight on Monday of the first week of October, when the bell in the main tower officially rings in Black Cat week. At this time, the entire student body rushes out with decorations in their respective class colors, decorating the main quad and student center with anything and everything blue, green, red, and yellow. The more random junk you have, the more points your class receives. Unfortunately this year, it rained all night and continued to pour for the next couple of days of the week. Despite this, many spirited Scotties, including myself, did not hesitate to fully participate in this important night of decorating. Armed in green cargo pants and a green fleece jacket, I helped my classmates build forts and pitch green signs across the quad. Although we were soaked to the bone by the end of the night, it was one of the most enjoyable nights of the week.
Other events that occur throughout the week include class party nights in Evans Dining Hall, Trivia Night on Tuesday, Bonfire Night on Thursday, and Field Day on Friday. We are scored from our performance at each of these events. My class of 2015 did an excellent job decorating the dining hall for our party night, and we tied for second place with our sister class behind the juniors at Trivia Night, for which I was a part of the team.
On Friday night, the final competitive event of the week occurs: Junior Production. This is probably the second most important night of the week other than the midnight rushing of the quad. During this stage show, each class presents their class song, class dance, and sister song that we write about our sister class. After that is judged, the junior class puts on a production filled with skits and sketches parodying Agnes student life. The juniors did an excellent job preparing for this night and presented an excellent and hilarious show. My class has a lot to live up to next year for our Junior Production. Fortunately, I definitely think we will be able to top the class of 2014.
At the end of the night, the final scores are tabulated and announced. It is very rare for the senior class not to win the Black Cat competition, and this precedence was not broken this year. Despite all of the work my class put into this year’s festivities, the junior class’s stellar performance at Junior Production pushed them to beat us by only ten points. The first-years did a great job as well, but since they are still getting used to campus life, they only got fourth place. After the class competition ends, we hold a celebratory Black Cat formal on Saturday night at a nice venue off-campus.
I plan to study abroad in Australia at the University of Western Sydney in Spring 2014. I originally was planning to leave the country for my entire junior year, but my decision to only go for the spring semester was partly based upon the fact that I did not want to miss my second to last Black Cat week. At Agnes Scott, and at any other college across the country, one of the most important aspects of full immersion in college life is to get involved. Black Cat week is one of the most important traditions at Agnes Scott, and it is one of the easiest in which to get involved. With being active as the treasurer of the Agnes Scott Honor Court, a member of Sigma Alpha Iota music fraternity and the Blackfriars theater organization, not to mention my two majors and a part-time job, I never thought I would have time to be involved with Black Cat week this year. Fortunately, with the support of the people around me, I was able to rush the quad Monday night and still ace my physics quiz the next morning. This is what college is all about – keeping up with your studies while still making time to relax, have fun, and enjoy some of the best years of your life.
If you have any questions about Agnes Scott College, women’s colleges, or college life in general, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.