100th DayEach year near the end of February, typically 100 days to graduation, the tables turn and the fourth class become "kings for a day." The second class square corners, brace-up, do orderlies, and spew indoc, while the fourth class carry on.
Academy Class Rings
Cadets at CGA may receive two rings before they graduate. The larger one and more important of the two is the signet ring which the second class receive in April. This ring is the cadet symbol of the Alma Mater and will be worn throughout a cadet's stay at the Academy and for the rest of his or her life. Each ring bears the Academy Crest on one side and the individual's Class Crest on the other. It is customary for cadets to wear their class rings with the class side easily seen by the wearer until graduation. Then the ring is reversed so that the Academy Crest is nearest to his/her heart.
During the Revolutionary War, a great chain was drawn across the Hudson River to keep ships from attacking the rebel fort at West Point, New York. General Benedict Arnold was in command of that fort and when he betrayed the revolutionary forces, one of the secrets he shared concerned these chains. The chain links that can be found outside of the Coast Guard Museum were donated by members of the family that originally forged them. Before the homecoming football game, fourth class cadets were challenged to hide the chain somewhere on the Academy grounds. The chain had been hidden in the Thames River, the Superintendent's garden, and even under the 50 yard line of the football field. The second class cadets had to find the chain by half-time of the football game. If they could not find it, they rewarded the fourth class with some privilege such as carry on.
It is tradition for cadets to place a picture of a loved one or someone special in their combination cover.
Graduating ensigns have two silver dollars in their pockets. One goes to the Anchor Cadet (the lowest ranking cadet graduating) and the other goes to the first person to salute them. If a cadet's relative was or is in the U.S. military, they can opt to have that relative present them their commission. The new ensign's shoulder boards are commonly put on by their parents after commencement and the whole corps usually keeps up this tradition by selecting someone special to put their newly earned cadet boards on their uniform too.
Each year during Graduation Week, a formal dance is held in honor of the new Academy graduates and their guests. The evening finds the graduates in Dinner Dress Whites and wide smiles because this is the last dance before promotion and new stripes. The Commencement formal marks a turning point at the Academy for other classes too as the next day is the end of an academic year and cadets are off to summer cruises.
"Who Lives Here Reveres Honor, Honors Duty." It is these few words that express what you should keep steadfast in your mind during your years at the Academy in all that you do. Those inlaid words on the Quarterdeck are a symbol of this Honor and should never be tread upon. Hold these few words high, respect its significance and never stray from their message.
Tradition has it that the cadet who rings the black navigational buoy by the museum will be granted good luck.
A statue of Objee (the Academy's mascot) is in the park behind Chase Hall. For morale and spirit, Objee is commonly dressed up before a big Football Game or any other athletic event. He is dressed in jerseys, team hats, war paint, class t-shirts, or various other cadet uniforms or decorations.
There are two ring dances held annually. The first, usually held about a month before Graduation, is for the third class to officially don their miniatures. The second provides second class their first official opportunity to wear their large class rings. At the second class dinner the escort receives the ring which women wear around their necks and men on their lapels. At the dance, each couple proceeds to the ring monument where the escort removes the ring, and dips it into a bowl containing all the waters patrolled by the Coast Guard. This is the Christening of the rings. Just as the ring dances traditionally mark the wearing of the class rings, so too they mark the loss of many miniatures to mothers or significant others.
Square Root Club
A tradition upheld in the past by students with academic problems, who called themselves the Square Root Club was performed at the grave of Hopley Yeaton. Members of the club had to have a grade point average so low that when you took its square root, it got larger. Members had to make a midnight pilgrimage to his grave, light a candle, and smoke a pipe while sharpening their dividers, a device used for measuring distances on a chart, on top of the crypt.
Tradition honors the right of being a full-fledged third class cadet upon sighting the first swab year behind you. It is at that moment of joy that you officially become an upper class cadet and lose the title of "swab." "You are still a swab, until you see a swab."