The academic, spiritual and personal development you will experience during your time at SMWC can be described using the very nature of these Woods: a small acorn growing into a mighty oak tree. 

Our community celebrates the past and nurtures our bright future through unique, long-standing traditions. With activities such as our whimsical Songfest or the moving Ring Ceremony, you’ll develop a bond with fellow students and create memories to last a lifetime.


The Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College Ring

The Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College ring is an enduring symbol that binds our proud traditions to the individual student’s memorable educational experience.  Awarded to qualifying students during the much-anticipated, Ring Day, the ring is the single most recognizable image of the College. It is more than a piece of jewelry. It honors academic success and sacrifice while demonstrating the pride and loyalty we all share. There’s amazing value to being able to look someone in the eye with a Woods ring upon his/her finger knowing that you both hold a special place in your hearts for The Woods.

The "Avenue Moment"

It is the reassuring sense of peace and belonging that is often felt when entering the main gate and driving on The Avenue. It is that voice within that whispers to your spirit and says… “you’re home.” It is a feeling you won’t find anywhere else.

The Acorn Ceremony

At the beginning of the fall semester, the seniors organize this ceremony to welcome freshmen to campus. While gathered at the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes, seniors gift freshmen an acorn and share stories about The Woods. The name of the ceremony is inspired by the beautiful campus setting — with acorns and oak trees all around.

The Oakleaf Ceremony

Considering that the indescribable magic and quiet assurance of The Woods are two of its most enduring and cherished characteristics, it is only fitting that we have a poignant and secretive rite-of-passage ceremony to properly express them. The Oakleaf Ceremony is a tradition between faculty and the senior class. During this commemoration, seniors are inducted into the alumni association, by turning their rings around. This is an eloquent symbol of growing from an acorn into an oak tree.

Pomeroy Pride

Pomeroy Pride is the spirit of competition, individuality and teamwork. It means never standing idle on the sidelines, but leading the charge with enthusiasm. It is the power to create new directions, expand boundaries and make every experience, success or defeat, add to your character. Pomeroy Pride means surpassing your own expectations. Named in memory of Mary Joseph Pomeroy, SP, ’21, a cherished SMWC alumni and employee, Pomeroy Pride ignites Woods students and alums with the passion to aim for higher standards on every path in life.

Fight Song, "Go, Woods, Go!"

The Woods has a long history of firsts and breakthroughs in college education, yet campus-life staples like a fight song and a team mascot went unfulfilled for nearly 180 years. Now, we have an anthem that will help us celebrate the meaning of Pomeroy Pride for years to come. The College debuted the fight song during the inaugural men’s basketball game on Oct. 30, 2021. Read more about the songwriting process here.

The Crosstown Classic

What an excellent display of the Pomeroy spirit. A hometown rivalry winter basketball game between SMWC and Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, this annual competition has resulted in 13 trophies for The Woods.  This game is proof of the Pomeroys’ athleticism and unshakable pride.

Midnight Breakfast

Kicking off finals week is the Midnight Breakfast. Faculty and staff cook and serve the students a scrumptious breakfast.  This fun activity shows the students just how supportive the faculty and staff is of their academic success.

Ring Day Pounding

As Ring Day gets closer, SMWC juniors gather around a table in O’Shaughnessy Dining Hall and pound on it while chanting a countdown to the big day. Around the room, each Pomeroy who has already earned the ring stands on a chair holding his/her hand high, showing the ring proudly. This Ring Day Pounding tradition is one way that students show their excitement for the upcoming ceremony.


As the title suggests, this is a celebration through song.  Each year in the fall, a book of songs is passed down to the junior class.  The new class creates original songs to put in this decades-old book, and also perform new and old songs.  These songs are a coveted secret of Pomeroys. This experience will show you what it feels like to be connected to the past, while also creating something special for the future.

Alternative Spring/Fall Break

Each semester, a group of 15 or so students and three chaperones volunteer their time in various parts of the country and abroad in an effort to give back.  Past trips have included environmental work in Pensacola, Florida, home repairs for residents of the Appalachian region, praying with the residents and exploring the culture of the Dominican Republic and working with young children at the Head Start program in New Orleans.


Proof that all Pomeroys are much more than a name is the Big/Little tradition. Through this thriving custom, first-year students are taken under the wing of a member of the upperclassmen (their Big). First-year students are taught the values and traditions of the College and guided through the ways of the Woods. This mentorship gives new students a sense of empowerment, community and pride. Bigs are traditionally revealed to their Littles either on the marble stairs of Le Fer Hall or in a creative way produced by the Big. While the Big/Little program is a tradition, each student can decide whether he/she wants to participate.

Equine Holiday Ride

When imagining this lively tradition, picture in your mind’s eye Paul Revere riding in to town on his galloping horse, only imagine he is bearing the joyful news. The Equine Holiday Ride takes place on study day before finals, and it involves senior equine students and some of our staff riding on horseback, from building to building on campus, singing Christmas carols. It starts early in the morning, when the seniors go pick their horses and decorate them in holiday décor. Such a unique tradition breeds widespread joy and holiday spirit, as well as bringing a contagious feeling of excitement to The Woods — not to mention easing some of the stress of finals week.

International Ring

For Saint Mary-of-the-Woods students who spent time studying abroad, the ring serves as reminder of the life-changing experiences they had in a foreign land. For international students, it is a ring that represents the culmination of the journey at The Woods and life in America. These groups of students are presented with these rings during International Ring Day, which takes place in the spring semester.