Admissions Blog: An inside look at Sweet Briar traditions

Posted on September 19, 2019 by Kendall Nicely ’21

Monument Hill Founders’ Day walk to Monument Hill, 2018

Sweet Briar traditions are the heart and soul of our campus. They help us bond with our classmates, connect us to generations of alumnae and root us in the rich history of a college founded 118 years ago by a visionary woman and her family. Sweet Briar College has a ton of traditions, and everyone has their favorites. Here are mine.

Founders’ Day

On Founders’ Day, Sweet Briar women honor those who established the College by visiting Monument Hill. Underclasswomen wear white, while seniors wear their robes, and the entire community attends Founders’ Day Convocation in Murchison Lane Auditorium to remember why we partake in this important tradition.

We celebrate Founders’ Day because of Indiana Fletcher Williams and her husband, James Henry Williams, and their beloved daughter, Daisy, who died at the age of 16. Indiana believed girls should have the opportunity to receive a proper and well-rounded education, so she left her estate to be used as a school for young women in honor of Daisy Williams.

Students march alongside their sister class with matching daisies. There is a short memorial service on the hill to celebrate the legacy of the founding family. The students will place their daisies at the grave sites following the ceremony to pay our respects.

Plantation Burial Ground
However, Founders’ Day is not exclusive to Monument Hill. In the morning, there is a sunrise walk to the Sweet Briar Plantation Burial Ground where students and other members of the community honor and remember the slaves who built the College. A ceremony is held and flowers are placed at the plaque before the burial grounds.

It is a day to remember our history. A day to reflect on why we are here. A day to retell the legacy of Indiana Fletcher Williams and enjoy that we can help continue her legacy of women’s education. This year’s Founders’ Day happens tomorrow, and we have some special guests coming!

Step Singing

In addition to Founders’ Day, another campus-favorite tradition is the Step Singing tradition that happens once a semester. Each class prepares four songs to sing to each class: first-years, sophomores, juniors and seniors. Each class must sing at least two nice songs because you would sing a nice song about your own class year and everyone sings a nice song to the seniors.

As for the other two songs: First-Years will sing a nice song to the junior class because they are sister classes, and they will sing a teasing song to the sophomores, their rival. The sophomores sing a teasing song to both junior and first-year classes because they are rivals to both.

Step Singing fall 2019 Fall Step Singing 2019 at Sweet Briar College

All the students wear their class T-shirts to the event, and they stand with their classmates behind their banner. Some students may wear other tradition regalia such as the senior robes, which are decorated and passed down from year to year.

Like Founders’ Day, Step Singing is a tradition that receives a lot of campus participation. It is a great way for classes to bond and interact with one another! Seniors enjoy their superior spot on the “Golden Stairs,” the senior steps, and take pictures with their friends. Juniors and first-years can be seen taking “Big Sister” and “Little Sister” photos, or you may see students taking pictures with their class banner. Overall, it is a fun evening event that you simply cannot miss!

Learn more about all of our Sweet Briar traditions and campus life at

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Kendall Nicely
Kendall Nicely ’21 is a political science major from Richmond. She is interested in both law and elementary education. She is active in the Student Government Association and is a student-athlete on the golf team.