College Tradition Unites Classes in Song

May 8, 2015
Members of the class of 2015 behind a class banner

Wellesley always marks the last day of classes with two important traditions: elaborate decorations and stepsinging. Students woke up Friday morning to discover academic departments and buildings covered in golden streamers, balloons, and creative tableaux, representing the late-night efforts of the graduating class of 2015, who have left their mark on campus.

On Friday afternoon, traditional stepsinging brings all four classes together on the steps outside Houghton Chapel at 4:15 p.m. For more than a hundred years, Wellesley students have gathered annually on the shaded steps outside the chapel to sing a volley of songs from the Wellesley Song Book. Classes dressed in their respective colors—red, yellow, purple, and green—rally behind their chosen “Song Mistress,” vying to out-cheer and out-sing each other.

One favorite song, Ballad of a Bold Bad Man by Louise Tibbetts Smith ’39, was inspired by the outcome of the 1939 hooprolling race: The winner was revealed to be a Harvard student, the editor of the Harvard Lampoon, who wore a wig, white blouse, and blue skirt to infiltrate the race. Appalled, Wellesley seniors promptly seized him and dumped him into Lake Waban, beginning the lake-tossing tradition. Other songs in the Wellesley repertoire include America the Beautiful, with lyrics by Katharine Lee Bates, class of 1880, as well as the jibing class chants that are interspersed throughout the event.

Join us on the chapel steps on Friday at 4:15 p.m., and add your voice to the Wellesley chorus.

  –Jocelyn Wong '15 contributed to this story.