High school is a significant time in any teenager's life, and few symbols are more enduring than the high school class ring. Representing a combination of school pride and affection for the graduating class, a class ring denotes a student's intent to graduate as part of a specific class. When to buy a ring, however, is a choice many parents and teenager must make based on their personal views, beliefs, and situations.
Tradition dictates many class ring specifics, and some traditions may vary from school to school. Students of Falls High School in International Falls, Minn., have worn proudly the same class ring design since 1929, making it the longest-standing ring design in high school history. Students at other schools, though, enjoy the flexibility of creating their own rings by choosing from a catalog of designs or using advanced online tools. There is no tradition, however, that specifies an exact time when class rings should be purchased.
The history of class rings goes all the way back to ancient Egyptians, who were awarded scarab rings as they accomplished life milestones. The Egyptians wore proudly these rings throughout their lives and were even buried with them. Romans, as well, were awarded rings for their military service and often believed the rings would bring them victory in battle. The modern class ring dates back to 1835, when West Point graduates were each awarded a ring to represent the completion of the rigorous military program. The rings came into popular fashion among high school and college students in the early 1900s, but they were typically awarded as a type of graduation gift rather than a demonstration of school pride while classes were still in session.
In some circles, the time frame for when a class ring is purchased is directly related to the student's family's financial well being. More well-to-do families gift a class ring to a son or daughter during the student's junior year of high school, while more middle-class families typically purchase a ring during the student's senior year (in some working-class families, the ring itself may serve as a relatively inexpensive gift to graduating students). By these standards, the typical time frame during which a class ring should be purchased falls during the later months of the student's junior (11th grade) year, the early months of the student's senior (12th grade) year or the summer in between the student's junior and senior years.
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