Perhaps nothing can elicit nostalgic thoughts as much as a class ring. A ring of gold or silver engraved with the school insignia and adorned with a gemstone can often evoke strong memories of school pride, graduation ceremonies and fleeting summer romances.
The tradition of the class ring actually began in 1835 at West Point Military Academy, and today it remains an integral part of a high school senior’s rite of passage. A simple elegant gold ring engraved with 1900, which belonged to Mary Taylor Downs, is the earliest class ring in the collection of the Museum of Northwest Colorado. Mary, daughter of early Craig residents, was one of the first graduates of Craig High School and later married Clyde Downs, son of an early Craig doctor.
While rings have been the most common high school commemorative jewelry, there have been other forms of personal adornment including class hatpins for female graduates. The Hayden Heritage Center in Hayden has two gorgeous gold hatpins, one from 1910 and the other from 1913. These pins, adorned with delicate filigree work and school initials engraved on top, are worth the drive over to this charming museum to our east.
The Craig museum also has a 1924 Craig High School ring, which belonged to Irene Hurd, a daughter of homesteaders on Little Bear below Black Mountain. Another ring, from the class of 1949, belonged to Janice Reeve Davidson, daughter of prominent homesteaders and sheep ranchers. This particular ring would have been one of the early years for the “MCHS” initials, because shortly before that the school was renamed Moffat County High School.
The Museum of Northwest Colorado is creating a small display featuring class rings from various years at the local high school showing how the rings have changed over the years. If you would be interested in loaning your class ring for this entertaining little exhibit, please call the museum at 970-824-6360, or stop by for a visit and show us your ring and tell us your story. We’d love to hear it; history starts right now and it is “your” story!