Class Day

Yale Old Campus

Yale Old Campus


Alma Mater: “Bright College Years”

Written by H. S. Durand, Class of 1881
Composed by Carl Wilhelm
Bright College years, with pleasure rife,
The shortest, gladdest years of life;
How swiftly are ye gliding by!
Oh, why doth time so quickly fly?
The seasons come, the seasons go,
The earth is green or white with snow,
But time and change shall naught avail
To break the friendships formed at Yale.
In after years, should troubles rise
To cloud the blue of sunny skies,
How bright will seem, through mem’ry’s haze
Those happy, golden, bygone days!
Oh, let us strive that ever we
May let these words our watch-cry be,
Where’er upon life’s sea we sail:
“For God, for Country and for Yale!”

Student Speeches & Class History

In centuries past, Class Day included formal academic speeches by members of the graduating class. Today, students speak during the ceremony in several short sets of remarks about the Yale experience—some serious, others less so. Over the years, the Class History has evolved from written speeches to on-stage skits to feature films to a crowd-sourced montage of photographs and video reflections.

Class Ivy

The tradition of planting the Class Ivy began in 1852, when the first vine was placed near the wall of the Old Library, now Dwight Memorial Chapel. Students engraved the numerals of their class on a nearby stone. In the early years, the graduating seniors sang the Ivy Ode as each member of the class scattered a handful of earth around the roots of the planted sprig. The numbers “2023” will be engraved on Old Campus.

The Yale Handkerchief

Tradition prescribes that, when singing the last line of “Bright College Years,” Yalies wave white handkerchiefs. Since 1984, each member of the graduating class has received a personal handkerchief from the Yale Alumni Association.

The Churchwarden Pipe

Graduating seniors will find a white clay pipe in their Class Day gift bags. In the nineteenth century, the members of the graduating class would gather on Old Campus to sit in a circle and smoke clay pipes. Honoring that history, the Churchwarden Pipe has linked Yale’s graduates over more than 150 years. Today, in place of the tobacco of generations past, the pipe is accompanied by bubbles for blowing.

The Class Day Anthology

The anthology features quotes, writings, and designs from members of the class. Each Yale College Class of 2023 graduate will receive a special gift bag including the anthology, handkerchief, a Yale College pin, and other keepsake materials.