Traditions at Russell Sage
Red Devil Ring Dinner a Red Carpet Event
Current Russell Sage Juniors received their class rings at the annual Junior Class Ring Dinner in November. The theme was “A Night at the Oscars,” and students, faculty and guests arrived formally dressed and even entered on the red carpet. More than 60 students from the Class of 2007 attended, along with members of the administration and faculty.
Denise Roberge Quickenton ’99, of MRB Communications in Schenectady, N.Y., spoke about choosing different paths in life using the examples of salmon, which swim straight toward a goal, and bullfrogs, which try out many different lily pads. She described how, as a dual major in Theatre and Communications at Russell Sage, she cultivated a love for lily pad hopping, and developed a talent for taking people to another place or time, whether with words and images or events and experiences.
“I’m supposed to talkto you about traditions and getting your rings and how much Sage has changed my life. Well, I didn’t get a ring,” she said. “But I participated in the most important tradition at Sage, being given the chance to become an extraordinary woman. I’m still working on it, but I’ll always remember where I got my start. The home of Red Devils, Blue Angels, Purple Cows, Golden Horseshoes, determined salmon and curious bullfrogs.”
Ring Around Russell Sage
by Charlotte Hays '07
When I first came to Russell Sage I was confused by all the traditions. Slowly as my first year rolled on, I began to understand the importance of all the songs, Big Sisters, Blue Angels, Red Devils, Purple Cows, Golden Horseshoes, and other class activities. Over the past two years, I have come to enjoy each and
every tradition, and for the first three months of school this year, I eagerly anticipated the Ring Dinner, at which President Neff would give us the go-ahead to wear our Sage rings for the very first time.
This class dinner was particularly important to me because I took on the task, with two fellow Red Devils, of planning this year’s Ring Dinner. I opted out of holding a student government position—I was song leader for the past two years—because I felt this dinner was even more important to our class and I wanted to make it as special as possible. It’s a time when all our friends gather in one place and share a moment when we’re recognized as women of this school, women who are changing and learning, women who are growing and becoming adults. Even those who do not participate in other school traditions see the importance of the Ring Dinner.
“I feel as though the class dinners are the one time a year when the class has time to dress up and come together to celebrate,” said Jen Harris of North Greenbush, N.Y. “Even people who aren’t ‘into’ the traditions will attend the Ring Dinner because receiving our rings represents achievement and history at Sage.”
Sage’s traditional jade ring with the School’s crest—which can be used to seal letters—originated with the Class of 1920. The ring to me is like a seal on my time at Sage. My ring represents not only all the traditions, but all my accomplishments in my education and my life.
“I think that because Sage is a school with so many traditions, it sets us apart from other schools, so wearing the ring symbolizes that. I think the ring represents belonging to Sage,” said Trina Lawton ’07, a Math Education major from Guilderland, N.Y. “Since our school is so small, we know most of the people and can share in being a part of Sage. Having the ring helps show people that we went to Sage and belonged to a special community.”
Since 1920 graduates of Russell Sage College have shared this tradition with one another, but the Sage ring is also something that can be shared from generation to generation.
“My ring originally came from my great aunt. She gave it to my mother and my mother will be passing it on to me,” said Ring Dinner co-chair Katrina Charland of Poestenkill, N.Y. “For me, the ring represents more than just Sage and my education; it also represents some of the key women in my life.”
Sage women can recognize other Sage women with just a glance at their hand. Angela Puorto of Amsterdam, N.Y. was at her summer job when she recognized the Sage ring on a customer’s hand. “It was nice to see that Sage women can come together in the most unlikely places,” she said. Like Katrina, Angela’s ring also has a family connection. Her mother, Melanie Punte Puorto, is an alumna of the Class of 1975 and also served as an adjunct professor at Sage. “To be different from the normal rings of our day, I ordered mine to be a pinky ring just like my mom’s,” she said. “I thought it would be a nice touch if our rings were matching.”
Daniella Puorto ’09 intends to follow in her mother and sister’s footsteps, “I grew up in awe of my mother’s ring, and I tried it on all the time. I was amazed how no one really takes it off; I plan on getting a Sage ring on my pinky just like my mom and sister.”
Whether celebrated in 1920 or 2005, the Ring Dinner holds something in a tradition that is truly unique and significant to the students and alumnae of Russell Sage.
“The Ring Dinner is one of the many traditions that may have been changed in one way or another throughout the years, but still gives our community and class a uniqueness—which is important to all of us,” said Sara Prehoda 07, a Nursing major from Hudson Falls, N.Y. “The ring represents our status as upperclassmen. I figure if there is a whole dinner revolving around the rings, they must be important! It’s like a Sage holiday! The ring today and throughout the rest of my life will represent my experience. It will be a reminder of the Sage days and all the great memories that come along with them.”
Charlotte Hays of Ballston Spa, N.Y. is an intern in the Office of Communications and news editor of The Quill.
Why Russell Sage?
by Casey Deyo '07
I first heard of Russell Sage through an internet search, and vowed that I would never attend an all-girls school. Yet, eager to attend a college in an urban area, I decided that I would at least take a look at it. The morning of my first visit, it was rainy, damp and dreary. Despite this, the campus looked beautiful and curiously appealing. I enjoyed my tour and the homey atmosphere of Russell Sage, but was still not sure that it was where I belonged. Following my visit, I decided to apply—just in case.
As a high school senior, I took Advanced Placement classes to earn college credit. I loved the individual attention and seminar style of these classes, and decided to narrow my college list to include only small schools. Along with a few others, Russell Sage remained on my list.
Some months into my senior year of high school, I had narrowed my search to two women’s colleges—Russell Sage and Simmons College—even though just months before I had sworn that I would never attend an all-girls school. I don’t know what made me change my mind, but I guess that the idea of only women changed from a dreadful to a decent prospect. Why not wake up in the morning and walk to class in your pajamas? Why not hold leadership positions on campus? Why not attend a women’s college?
Ultimately, my decision was easy. Russell Sage offered me a generous scholarship and financial aid package that made the College affordable.
Now, as a junior communications major at Russell Sage, I could not imagine being anywhere else. The fabric of this College and my experiences here are rooted in the concept of educating women, and furthering our abilities not just as students, but as people. I feel as if I am able to accomplish so much more because I have the support of other women around me. Here, we are a sisterhood—we grow, change and learn together.
I feel as if my education and college experience have been enhanced because I am surrounded by only women. In class, I raise my hand to contribute, and I take on responsibility in extracurricular activities that I would have been too nervous to join before my time at Russell Sage.
Although most students, like me, don’t make the decision to come to Russell Sage because it’s an all-women institution, we appreciate this quality once we are here. Russell Sage is important to the women who have experienced it, and it is this experience that ultimately molds the people that we become. Never did I think that attending a women’s college would matter, but now I know that it shapes all of us.
Casey Deyo '07 is an intern in the Office of Communications and sports editor of The Quill.
Honors-Level Restoration in Wool House
by Allison Dragotto ‘05
One of my responsibilities at the Russell Sage College Alumnae Office is editing class notes for Connections. While sending publication information about the upcoming issues to the class correspondents, I came across a familiar name—Muriel Van Zandt Lichtenwalner ’44. I used to see her name every day in my junior and senior years, on a plaque outside my room on the second floor of Wool House. The plaque read: “This room restored through the generosity of Muriel Van Zandt Lichtenwalner.” The room she had donated the funds to restore—the room I lived in—was the same room she had lived in as a Russell Sage student.
After sending the class notes e-mail, I wrote a personal message to Muriel. Recently restored Wool House—designated as honors housing for Russell Sage students—underwent significant renovation this past summer, and I wanted to share the exciting changes with Muriel.
Extremely nice when I lived there, Wool House is even more impressive now. Hardwood floors have replaced carpeting throughout the house and the effect is especially striking on the stairway, where the wood seems to glow. Even with the renovations, the entire house has retained its historic appearance.
Wool House residents must be the cleanest students on campus this year—new showers in the four bathrooms have proved to be very popular! Think of the restroom in an upscale hotel; the new Wool House bathrooms are just as sophisticated. A new water system has enhanced water flow and temperature control in all sinks and showers, lighting has been improved, and new tiles line the floors and walls.
Fredericka “Freddie” Voorhaar Slingerland ’36, who passed away last year, contributed the funds for the restoration and renovation of Wool House. She would have been proud of the work and she would have enjoyed the positive reactions and comments from residents and visitors.
Muriel Van Zandt Lichtenwalner and I still write e-mails to each other. We feel like we have become new Sage sisters. I sincerely hope I have the opportunity to meet Muriel. As we discussed through our e-mails, I would like to give her a tour of Wool House the next time she visits campus so we can trade stories of the room we shared. My sharing of this story in Connections showcases the wonderful restoration work in Wool House, and the connection among Russell Sage College alumnae evenyears after graduation.
Allison M. Dragotto ’05 is an administrative assistant at the Russell Sage College Alumnae Office and is pursuing her master’s degree in Public Administration at Sage Graduate School.