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Silver Sisters of the Past

April 27 at 4:09 PM. This is what the timestamp on my most recent Facebook post read at 4:15 PM that very same night. It had been six whole minutes since I posted my plea to the Dana Hall Alumnae Facebook page. I slumped back with my chin to my chest and wedged myself even further into the gap between the couch cushions, staring dejectedly up at my phone screen. I had built up gaining access to and posting on the private Dana Hall Alumnae Facebook page to such an extent that anything less than an immediate torrent of responses felt absolutely disappointing. Weeks of research, preparation, and anticipation had all been poured into that one Facebook post and with each passing moment, I was becoming more desperate. I stared intently at the notification screen and dragged my thumb from the top to the bottom, refreshing it again and again. At this point, I thought to myself, I would be satisfied with any response at all: a measly “like,” a slangy comment, or even the most basic of moom and star emojis would do. I just needed something. Some indication that my plea for help had reached the alumnae network at long last.

Tap, drag, release… nothing. Tap, drag, release… nothing. Over and over again, I repeated this process until my eyes glazed over and my vision blurred. I had to stop. Sighing, I toggled my phone into airplane mode and set it facedown on the couch beside me. A watched pot never boils, I reminded myself as I stood up and forced myself to walk away. Looking for anything to distract me from my obsessive scrolling, I settled down at the kitchen counter with a heaping bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios. Before I knew it, half an hour had passed and my bowl was sitting empty in the sink. A bit reluctantly, I walked back to the couch and flopped down with my phone. Deftly, I scanned my thumb and selected the Facebook icon, expecting to once again be disappointed by a notification-free screen. That’s when, all of a sudden, Bzzz! Bzzz! Bzzz! Ding! Ping! Ping! My phone erupted in a cacophony of vibrations, chimes, and dings. It took a moment for my eyes to grasp the words illuminated on the screen in front of them, and when they did, I felt as if I could literally feel my heart skipping a beat. Sixty-eight notifications. Bzzz! Ping! Ping! They just kept coming. Beaming, I scrolled to the very bottom and began to open them up one by one by one, like gifts on Christmas morning.

Before I explain to you exactly what these sixty-eight notifications were and why they mattered so very much to me, there are a few things you need to know. First and foremost, you’ll need to be aware of a very secretive and icy weekend back in February, 2019. Only by understanding this weekend’s significance to me, can you begin to understand how I got into the predicament that I did. Let’s begin.   

This past February, I went through the most magical and transformative weekend of my life: Midwinter tradition. Although I can’t go into much detail about the tradition itself because it is a long-kept secret, I can tell you that Midwinter is where juniors receive their coveted class rings from seniors. Going through the tradition and receiving your class ring is an absolutely incredible experience that makes those who go through it feel like a true part of the Dana Hall sisterhood.

During my own chilly Midwinter weekend, I not only formed unbreakable bonds with my 2019 and 2020 Silver Sisters, but I also began to feel a strong connection to all of the Silver Sisters who came before me. One of the main reasons for this is because of the particular class ring that I was presented with at the tradition. A gold 1993 class ring with a red stone. Now, for those of you who are familiar with the tradition, it probably sounds like a mistake that I, a member of the class of 2020, received a 1993 class ring. After all, I am neither a Dana Hall legacy nor am I a forty-four year old alumna. However, my receiving this peculiar ring was no mistake and no surprise to me at all, as I actually purposely arranged for it to happen this way.

I first stumbled across the ring way back in 2016 when I was still attending Dana Hall’s middle school. At the time, I was in 8th grade and completely fascinated by (and maybe a little obsessed with) the mature Upper Schoolers and their many mysterious traditions. One day after school, I was sitting on the stone wall outside of the dining center waiting for my Dad to pick me up and decided to take a trip to Truly’s to pass the time. Back then, walking to town was a privilege that was reserved exclusively for Upper Schoolers, but the new Lulu Lemon headband and Claire’s earrings that I was sporting made me feel so stylish and confident that I felt sure anyone who saw me would mistake me for an Upper Schooler.

After buying my Bubblegum ice-cream, I emerged from Truly’s, a rebel with a cone, and was just about to walk back to campus when I saw the Anderson’s Jewelers next door. On a whim, I decided to stop in and see what shimmering, glittering, treasures they had on display. With the confidence of Carrie Bradshaw and the sticky bubblegum fingers of a toddler, I strutted straight into Anderson’s Jewelers and began to peruse their pristine cases as though I had cash to burn. It was at that moment that I spotted something gold, red, and gorgeous in one of the estate jewelry cases. The very 1993 class ring that I now proudly wear on my finger. When I first saw the ring, I gazed at it for a long moment and promised myself that, if the ring was still in the case when it came time for my own Midwinter tradition, I would buy it.

This past December, I finally made that highly-anticipated trip back to Anderson’s Jewelers and found that, amazingly, the ring was still there— glittering up at me from the case. It was as if it had been waiting there just for me. Excitedly, I asked to try it on, and in a very Cinderella-esque fashion, I discovered that it was an exact fit. As if the situation were not perfect enough already, the ring’s red stone also matched my class colors, and its gold band was exactly what I had wanted all along. To me, finding this perfect ring felt like more than just a coincidence. It felt like fate.

Holding true to the promise that I had made myself all those years ago, I bought the 1993 ring right then and there. Although the ring was not created for me and, in fact, was never meant to be worn by me at all, it has since become mine through the experiences that I have had with it. 2020, 2019, or 1993; a class ring is significant to its owner regardless of the date engraved on its side. For me, my class ring is a physical representation of the most pivotal parts of my Dana Hall experience, and I wear it each day with pride.

While I do feel that my 1993 class ring has become a part of my own unique Dana Hall experience, I can’t help but be curious about who it once belonged to and how it found its way into that case at Anderson’s Jewelers. My ring is something that connects me to the Dana Hall sisterhood, and as such, it seems only right that I at least try to connect with the sister who wore it before me.

For the past several months, I have been engaged in an all-consuming search for my 1993 Silver Sister. In search of her, I have scoured a half decade worth of yearbooks, exchanged countless emails with Herff Jones (the ring’s manufacturer), and have even returned to Anderson’s Jewelers on numerous occasions in search of new information. Alas, despite all these efforts, I still found nothing. Customer privacy policies, a lack of adequate store records, and the sheer enormity of students in the 1993 class all prevented me from making any true progress. After weeks of unsuccessful searching, I decided to take a new approach. If I were to have any hope of finding my ring sister, I decided that I would need to refocus my search and make it as Dana-centric as possible. It was time to take a deep dive into the “Dana Bubble.”

Although the “Dana Bubble” is sometimes criticized for overly sheltering students and thus disconnecting them from the outside world, my personal experience with it during my investigation was exactly the opposite. While it is undeniable that the “Dana Bubble” does shield students from life’s harshest realities, this is not all that it does. In fact, the primary function of the “Dana Bubble” is actually to help students to foster their worldly connections and extend them in ways that would otherwise be impossible. Mainly, the “Dana Bubble” achieves this through three key resources: Dana Hall’s meticulously-kept Archives, the kind and attentive women who work there, and Dana Hall’s extensive alumnae network.

With the goal of gathering as much information as possible in mind, I decided to take advantage of all three of these resources beginning with the Dana Hall Archives. At first, I was terrified to visit the Archives because I was afraid of what I might discover there. What if something horrible happened to the girl who once wore my ring? What if the ring is cursed? What if she hates Dana Hall, the ring, and me? All of these fears, both rational and irrational swirled through my mind as I made my first trip to the very back of the library where the Archives are located. When I finally reached the imposing wooden door, I just stood there for a moment, scanning it and fretting over all of the terrifying information that I was surely about to discover. A printed black sign on the window read OPEN and the door was clearly ajar for anyone to enter, but I was so nervous that I knocked anyway.

“Hellooo!,” rang out a cheerful voice from inside. “Come on in!” The invitation and welcoming tone reassured me and gave me the confidence to push the door the rest of the way open and walk inside. The sight that greeted me when I entered was not nearly as intimidating as I had expected: a small, orderly office filled with old books and carefully labeled boxes and a smiling woman seated at a wooden table. Pinned to the walls and carefully spread out on every available surface were black and white images of former Dana Hall students, teachers, and building. The room was filled with so many hundreds of fascinating artifacts and photographs from Dana Hall’s history that I simply couldn’t help but get side-tracked.

Rather than asking for information about the 1993 class rings, I found myself talking with the enthusiastic archivist for more than half an hour about everything from the upcoming alumnae speakers at She Sails, to Lathrop House, to the top-secret Code Girls of World War II. When I finally did manage to get back on track and ask about the class of 1993, what I learned was not nearly as exciting as what we had begin talking about. According to the archivist, there was no information available about 1993’s class rings at all. Although this information, or rather lack of information, was disappointing to say the least, I tried my hardest not to be discouraged by it. After all, it is not as though I had lost anything by visiting the Archives. I had simply not gained anything new.  

Refusing to dwell on my set-back in the Archives, I returned to my dorm room that night excited to set the next part of my search into motion. The next phase was to contact the Dana Hall Alumnae association in the hopes that they could connect me with the class of 1993 directly. After doing a bit of research online, I discovered that the best way to contact the alumnae association was to send them a direct message through their private Facebook page. That night and for the next several days, I worked tirelessly to draft the perfect all-encompassing message in 20,000 characters or less. In all, the message took three days to polish and involved numerous FaceTime sessions with my mother, three rounds of peer editing from my wonderful friends, and even a writing lab appointment. Finally, after all that, the message was complete and I felt ready to send it off to the great and powerful alumnae association. After two days of anxiously waiting, I finally got the response that I had been hoping for: yes, we can give you access to the alumnae Facebook page for one month. Just like that, I found that I had been accepted into the exclusive Dana Hall Alumnae Facebook group and was, I hoped, one step closer to finding my 1993 Silver Sister.

Immediately after being accepted, I began to piece my epic Facebook post together. The post would be reaching more than 1,600 alumnae, and I desperately wanted to leave a good impression on all of them. In order to do this, I decided that I would have to capture every step that I had taken thus far: every success, every failure, every dream, everything, and wrap all of it up in a neat, little, blue and white bow. For the rest of the day, I put an excessive amount of pressure on myself to make the post absolutely perfect and poured my every spare moment into its creation. By the following afternoon, I finally felt satisfied with my work and was ready to send it out to the thousands of Dana Hall Alumnae who I felt certain would be judging me. Seated on my couch, I clicked “send” and immediately felt as if an enormous weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I was still nervous about the response that I would receive, but at least I had taken a major step forward. Now, I thought excitedly to myself, my long lost Silver Sister is just a few keyboard clicks away! Anxious to see what reactions my post would get, I quickly clicked over to the notification screen and began to refresh… and refresh… and refresh.

To bring everything full circle, it was six minutes of this obsessive refreshing that caused me to be in the couch-bound and bleary-eyed state that you found me in on April 27th at 4:15 PM. Once I gave up my crazed scrolling, all it took was fifteen minutes for the first sixty-eight responses that I so desperately wanted to reach my inbox.

For the first hour or so, hundreds of responses flooded my Facebook, but as the night progressed, the messages slowed to a trickle. It didn’t matter to me when or how fast the messages were coming in though, I was absolutely ecstatic to read and respond to each and every one of them. The responses came from alumnae of all ages from all around the globe and ranged in everything from words of encouragement, to sentiments of nostalgia and memories of Midwinter, to helpful tips about how I might find my specific 1993 sister. Some alumnae even went so far as to send me beautiful images of their rings and other Midwinter memorabilia which they had carefully preserved for decades. Reminiscing with these alumnae about traditions which I had only recently gone through was a heart-warming and life-affirming experience which I hope to always remember. Although I enjoyed all of the messages that I received, the ones that touched me most simply read “Welcome to the Sisterhood.” Each time I received one of these messages, I couldn’t help but smile at the fact that these women were now my sisters.

While, in the end, I did not get enough information from the alumnae responses to identify my 1993 Silver Sister, I did receive such a wealth of information about past classes that I could probably compile an entire Dana Hall Archive of my own. Over the course of just one month, I was told about controversies, births, deaths, new jobs, and new love in such detail that it would be impossible to do any of them justice here. This information was boldly shared with me simply because of the bond of our silver sisterhood.

Although I have not yet found my 1993 Silver Sister, this in no way means that my search for her has been in vain. From my search, I have found something far more valuable than the name of a single 1993 alumna: I have found an entire network of sisters. Compassionate sisters who care about one another, Dana Hall, and me. Experienced sisters who have lived life to the fullest and wish to share their wisdom with the world. Powerful sisters who speak their truths and never back down from a challenge. I have found Silver Sisters who treat me as if we are truly family.

Although my search thus far has failed to make clear to me who my mysterious ring once belonged to, the process of searching for its owner has made one thing abundantly clear to me: so long as the sisterhood exists, I will never be truly alone. The Dana Hall sisterhood is forever, and this means that my Silver Sisters will always be there to support me when I need them. I am truly proud to be a member of the silver sisterhood, and I await with anticipation my own graduation day when I too will join the ranks of Dana Hall’s strong and capable alumnae.

Although my month of access to the Dana Hall Alumnae Facebook page is now over, this in no way means that my search has ended. All that I have accomplished over the past four months is just the beginning of what I hope will be a far grander and more conclusive investigation. Inspired by the resilience of the alumnae to which I have spoken, I have decided that I cannot and will not give up. In this spirit of perseverance, I have recently reached out to the Wellesley newspaper and asked if they would be interested in publishing my plea and my journey thus far. Perhaps, this publicity will be exactly what I need in order to reach my 1993 Silver Sister at long last. Until then, the search continues.

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