Our Traditions

Chapel Chocolate Bells Panorama

At St. Andrew's-Sewanee School we value our traditions, but we are constantly asking what works now and for the future. Some of our treasured traditions, such as our Honor Code, have a long and storied past that dips way back through our 150+-year history. Others, such as our Earth Day celebration, are quite a bit younger.

The Honor Code

St. Andrew's-Sewanee School's Honor Code dates from Sewanee's earliest days (the first pledge, "I have neither given or received assistance ...", which has survived on an examination paper in the Archives, is dated 1876). The Honor Code, Honor Pledge, and Honor Council make up the Honor System.

The Ringing of the Chocolate Bells

Our Chapel bells ring for community gatherings, chapel services, sports victories, and for 11 minutes at 11:11 a.m. on November 11 each year. That last ritual fulfills a promise to the Episcopal church in Morristown, N.J., that funded the bells with money originally collected to provide chocolate for World War 1 servicemen. When the war ended, they allocated the balance of their funds to St. Andrew's School which lacked money for bells for its recently completed chapel. The churchwomen asked that the bells be dedicated to the archangels— Uriel, Raphael, and Michael. The annual ringing of the "chocolate bells" is done in memory of those who died in World War I, in gratitude for the gift, and as a prayer for peace. 


The prefect system of student government came to St. Andrew's from Kent School, also established by the Order of the Holy Cross. Proctors assume many responsibilities on campus, especially in the residential houses, and are charged with setting examples for the student body. Today, proctors are rising seniors who are respected for their engagement with the community and their leadership skills. They are elected by students and teachers.

The All-School Photo

For more than 45 years, Edward St. John has been chronicling the beginning of our school year by assembling the 300 or so members of our community for a panoramic photo taken on his Cirkut Camera manufactured in 1905. A small group of seniors are chosen each year to "Run!" as the camera slowly clicks across the crowd, allowing them to "magically" appear twice in the photo.

The Morning Watch

Students participate in the annual Holy Week vigil known as The Morning Watch. The tradition forms the basis for James Agee's 1951 novel The Morning Watch. The Pulitzer-prize winning author participated in the event as a St. Andrew's student in the 1920s. Boarding and day students sign up for 30-minute shifts of prayer and meditation beginning at 10 p.m. after the Maundy Thursday service and continuing until 7 a.m. on Good Friday.

Earth Day

Since 1982, SAS has suspended regular classes for one full day each April for learning and fun in celebration of the environment. The annual festivities include guest speakers, mini-classes, field trips, a noontime feast, a special Earth Day Creative Expression Assembly, and an afternoon celebration of ice cream and music. Past mini-classes have included yoga, indigo dyeing, cooking, bouldering, watercolor painting, dance and choreography, photography, outdoor Shakespeare performance, and poetry writing, pottery, and kite design. Field trips have ventured to factories, environmentally-designed homes, and to area trails.