BUIES CREEK -- Meredith Locklear started her senior year at Campbell University in August, but it was on Saturday, Oct. 26, when it hit her: “Wow, I’m really a senior.”
That morning, Locklear and dozens of other juniors and seniors received their official class rings during the university's inaugural Ring Ceremony in a standing-room only Butler Chapel. The ceremony marked the beginning of a new tradition at Campbell; it started off a full day of activities to celebrate Homecoming 2013; and, for Locklear, it served as “the perfect way to start off the senior activities."
“This ceremony provides a sense of community and fellowship, and it brings together many of the students who are in a similar situation as you,” said Locklear, a clinical research major. “The next thing for us will be ordering our caps and gowns, and then soon it’s going to be graduation. This is the first thing that has made me think, ‘Wow, I’m really a senior.’”
What made the Ring Ceremony even more significant is that it’s the first of its kind to be held at Campbell, Locklear said. “It’s really special to be part of the first one.”
Campbell alumni have been wearing class rings for years, but it wasn’t until last April that the university premiered the official class ring and began planning its first Ring Ceremony to coincide with Homecoming 2013. One-hundred-and-forty-one students who have completed at least 64 credit hours have bought an official class ring since August -- and many of them participated in Saturday’s Ring Ceremony. Among them was Britany Curry, a senior in psychology.
“It was important to be here, because [this ring] represents the next step,” said Curry, who’s on track to graduate in May and who plans to attend graduate school for nursing. “And because it's the first ceremony, that makes it even more important.”
The tradition of class rings in the U.S. dates back to 1835 when cadets at West Point received them, Dennis Bazemore, Campbell’s vice president for student life, said during the ceremony. So it was fitting that cadets with Campbell’s ROTC placed the rings Friday evening in the Dinah E. Gore Bell Tower for safekeeping overnight and escorted them to the chapel Saturday morning.
Campbell President Jerry Wallace then presented the rings to each student in attendance who had ordered one. “This ring is a symbol of Campbell pride and what Campbell has been in its 127 years, of what is now and of what it will be -- and what it will be is largely what you will be and do and serve,” Wallace said before he directed all the students to remove the rings from boxes and place them on their fingers at the same time. “I’m confident with the strong hands I shook and the happy faces that I saw and the pride I have experienced with you, that the future is in good hands.”
The ring design features the year of the university’s founding; degree abbreviations; stones that are orange and black, the school’s colors; and the university seal, which is also printed on graduation diplomas and on the medallions that first-year students receive during New Student Convocation. In addition, the ring includes imprints of three of the university’s campus landmarks: Kivett Hall’s tower, D. Rich Memorial Hall and the Dinah E. Gore Bell Tower.
Kivett is the oldest building on campus and serves as a reminder of Campbell’s beginnings, Bazemore said during the ceremony. He added that D. Rich is a historical building where every Campbell student l has most likely passed through at some point in their academic careers, while the Gore Bell Tower “speaks volumes about our faith and mission.”
Together, the three buildings reflect the university’s mission and commitment to educate men and women for Christian service and its belief that faith and learning are not in conflict. “All you have to do is stand in the Academic Circle and you will see these three buildings that are now on your ring and how significant they are to the role and mission of Campbell,” he said.
“I am excited about this new tradition," Bazemore added. "I hope you will cherish this ring. May this ring be a reminder of your student days at Campbell . . . and [may you] carry this with a great sense of Campbell pride . . . and use this ring to open doors to speak to others about Campbell.”
-- Article by Cherry Crayton, digital content coordinator