Corps Day and Recognition Day Tips

UPDATED 03/16/2017

The Citadel is combining two big events for cadets the weekend of March 17 – 19, Corps Day and Recognition Day. The school website mentions three events which includes the Leadership Symposium. Since most families who come to town do so to see the Summerall Guards ceremony on Saturday morning, and this year for Recognition Day, I’ll focus on those two events.

The schedules are available online for the weekend. For a more detailed schedule for activities parents will want to attend, go to the parents page of the school website and read through the Corps and Recognition Day 2017 page.

Rifle exchange

the 2015 Bond Volunteers prepare to take their rifles and become the 2015 Summerall Guards.

Tips for parents of Bond Volunteers and Summerall Guards:

The crowd begins to form on the parade field about 30 minutes before the scheduled ceremony. The schedule lists the time as 8:45 – 9:45am. So arriving  by 8:15am to find your preferred spot along the roped off area is a good idea.

Be sure to ask your cadet where they will be as they march onto the field to know if you should be on the side closest to the barracks or the other side closer to Chapel side of the field. For instance my son was the 5th squad back on the end closest to the barracks side of the field. We stood at the roped off area closest to the 2nd battalion across the walk way from where General and Mrs. Rosa sit for parades. (Of course cadets and grads will refer to theses areas and line up for the Summerall Guards by their proper terms. Since I’m a mom and not a grad I’ve developed my own way to describe the areas to help other parents know where to stand.)

Another must is insect repellant for the morning. The entire ceremony only lasts about 20 minutes or so but after it is over you’ll want to snap photos with your cadet. It is a bit of a scramble after it ends. Ask your cadet the best way to find them after the ceremony ends. Many of them will be talking with the Summerall Guard whose rifle they now carry and receiving their Summerall Guard patch.

Most years they’ve had a luncheon for the Summerall Guards after the parade. It is at the luncheon where we purchased out Summerall Guards parent t-shirt. It is a fundraiser for them to help with expenses. Check with your cadet for the plans for this year.


Members of the Class of 2019 begin their march to Marion Square on Recognition Day for the Class of 2019.

Tips for parents of the Class of 2020:

The schedule this year is completely different from previous years since Recognition Day has been moved from April to the same weekend as Corps Day. Stories from parents of upperclass cadets of what they did on Recognition Day won’t really apply to your experience this year.

This weekend is not like Parents Weekend where the emphasis is on spending time together. The Recognition Day part of the weekend is really about the Class of 2020 and their time together, parents while welcome to watch are not the focus. If you are planning to be in town, remember you may not see your cadet Friday afternoon and evening. They have meetings and will need to get their rooms in inspection order for the open barracks Saturday morning. If they do have time off to see you for dinner consider it a bonus visit.

Saturday will be jam-packed with activities. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes for the day. Look over the schedule to see just how busy you’ll be and make your plans for lunch based on your family.

The barracks open at 8:00am. Check with your son or daughter to see if they want any food brought to them. They will have a VERY strenuous workout after the parade so they may not want anything too heavy.

The Rifle Legion and the Summerall Guards will perform on the parade field that morning. Check with your cadet to see if they will be attending both or either of those events. My son’s senior mentor was a Summerall Guard so he wanted to see that ceremony.

After the Summerall Guards exchange rifles the Corps of Cadets must prepare for the 10:00 parade. This would be a good time to have a light snack. The Canteen will be open but to avoid lines you may want to pack your own snacks or lunch. You’ll also have time after the parade and before the Gauntlet begins to grab something to eat or sit in the reception room in Mark Clark Hall between events.


Members of the Class of 2019 participate in the gauntlet as upperclass cadets guide the activities.

The Gauntlet begins at 11:30. It is a series of physical challenges the 4th Class cadets go through together by company. They will be either on the parade field or the WLI field. Some years the school posts a map. I haven’t seen it posted yet. To get an idea of how Recognition Day was handled in the past I’ve found the PowerPoint from 2015 on the website.

The past several years after the gauntlet is over and the 4th class cadets are in the barracks and hear the announcement “The 4th Class System is no longer in effect.” The newly recognized cadets would come out to give a hug to their family members. The timing is very tight this year and the cadets may not have time to come out. The training schedule has the cookout in the barracks beginning at 1320 and the hygiene time to get ready for the retaking of the oath on the parade ground at 3:00. The March is on the schedule for 1500.

If you haven’t ordered a meal through the school (the ordering time frame has past), pack a lunch or eat in the Canteen the school.


General Rosa and Provost Dr. Connie Book visit with class of 2019 family members at a lunch held last year after the gauntlet. This year boxed lunches will be available to purchase.

Cadets who saved an overnight and followed the protocol can take one Saturday night. Most of the cadets are too exhausted to want to do much Saturday night. If you want to go out for a nice meal Sunday is the better day to do that.

I’ll be helping my youngest daughter at her high school musical that weekend so I’ll have to miss the excitement. I look forward to seeing everyone’s photos. Next year I’ll have my own college freshman, just not a knob at The Citadel.


L-R Provost, Dr. Connie Book, Dorie Griggs, Mrs. Donna Rosa, General John Rosa



Recognition Day for the Class of 2020

Recognition Day, March 18, is the day The Citadel Class of 2020 will hear the words, “The 4th Class system is no longer in effect.” The knobs have worked very hard to get to this point in the year.

Many parents have asked if there is a traditional gift to mark this milestone. While there isn’t one “have to get” item, over the years many families have given their 4th Class cadet a company t-shirt  from the campus bookstore to mark the occasion.

In the past few years an alumnus has offered a special Recognition Day t-Shirt. The sales benefit the Col Harvey M. Dick, ’53 Memorial Ring Endowment. A photo of the shirt is below and it is available on the Senior Private Etsy site. Sunday, February 20 is the last day to order this shirt.


The decision what to give a 4th Class cadet, if anything, is up to each family. What is really important is the pride they will feel in accomplishing the toughest goal they have faced to date.

The Citadel: End of the Year Tips for Parents

2015 ready to say good bye

Members of the Class of 2015 turn to face the Corps of Cadets.

Each year about this time I receive an interesting mix of questions. Families of seniors write with graduation questions. Sophomore and junior parents have fewer questions but the ones they do have revolve around either the BVA process for junior year or early questions about Ring Weekend for rising seniors. The knob families are gearing up for Recognition Day, and the parents of high school seniors have matriculation Day questions.

Senior families:

The graduation schedule is posted on the school web site and should answer most of your questions. You only get 8 tickets per family. some large families set up a computer/TV combination in a rental home so the people who are not at graduation can see the live stream.

The school posts a link to the Balfour graduation announcements. They did not have the site updated early enough for many families so many have used a different company that offer better prices and plenty of options: Signature Announcements

I refer parents to the link to Emily Post Graduation Etiquette for an explanation about the difference between announcements and an invitation. Since the tickets are limited it is customary to send announcements a day to 2 weeks after the graduation to let friends and family know of the milestone reached by your graduate.

On graduation day be sure to ask your graduate where they want to meet you when the ceremony is over. The place is packed and if you have a designated place to meet it can cut down on the time it takes to find your grad is a sea of people.

For more tips and photos just enter Graduation in the search window of this blog page. Here is the post I wrote after graduation last year: Graduation for the Class of 2015


Class of 2015 Dismissed!

Junior families:

The biggest question that I’m asked is about the ring payment.The Citadel Alumni Association will send a bill in late August once the registrar lets them know who is qualified to receive their rings in October. Hopefully you or your cadet have been saving up. The cost of the ring has been in the $1,000 range the past several years. The payment is due before Ring Weekend.

BV and Summerall Guards with Jason

A few 2014 Summerall Guards, 2015 Bond Volunteers pose with ’89 grad, Jason Perakis, before their run Friday of Corps Day Weekend.

It is customary for the cadet to escort their mother through the giant replica of the ring the Friday evening of Ring Weekend. The schedule of when each company goes through the ring is posted early in the new school year by the cadet activities office.

For photos of dresses and other activities of the weekend, see this post: Parents’ Weekend at The Citadel, 2015

Sophomore families:

There isn’t much parents need to know before junior year. If your son has plans to become a Bond Volunteer Aspirant, you can expect them to spend a good part of their summer physically preparing. I’ve posted several entries about the process you might find helpful.

Knob families:

It won’t be long until your son or daughter will cease being a knob and become a regular 4th Class cadet. Recognition Day is coming up. If you attend, remember it is not a day to interact with your cadet. If you go, watch from the sidelines, take photos and be in awe of how they have grown as a class in one short academic year. This year I am looking forward to being on campus and joining some 2019 families for lunch that day.

Tire Flip

Cadets work together to flip a tire during the “Gauntlet.” photo by Stacy Carter Photography Studios

A heads up about sophomore year: It is a different type of tough.They aren’t knobs but if they have rank they are the lowest ranking officers. Many refer to it as knobmore year because it doesn’t seem a whole lot different than the year before. Parents like to call it knob-no-more, but I’m told by many cadets and grads that knobmore is a better description.

A few words of caution. . . It is a year when they do get a little bit a power. It can be a time when they will run into the discipline system a bit more. Grades can slip sophomore year because they don’t have anyone telling them what to do like they did the year before.

Families of high school seniors:

Congratulations! You are about to embark on quite a rollercoaster ride called Knob Year. Please join the Facebook group called, The Citadel: Parents of the Class of 2020. Please send me an email to let me know you are the parent of an incoming knob. The group is only for parents of knobs, not extended family. You’ll meet other parents who will become your friends. A few parents of grads are in the group to help answer questions. We have a variety of different backgrounds.The Citadel Family Association also has a Facebook group you can join. The Area Reps are parents throughout the country who volunteer to be a support to knew parents. Once you know your son or daughters company (on Matriculation Day) you will have a CFA parent volunteer you can also contact for help and support.

Knobs and Mark Clark statue

Knobs line up after getting their heads shaved Monday of Challenge Week, 2015

As The Citadel Turns

The Class of 2018 marched into Marion Square and affirmed their oath. Photo by Stacy Carter Photography Studios

The Class of 2018 marched into Marion Square and affirmed their oath.
Photo by Stacy Carter Photography Studios

It was a busy weekend for Citadel cadets. Recognition Day for the first year knobs happened Saturday. It’s the most anticipated day of the year for knobs. They cease being knobs and become full member of the Corps of Cadets when at the end of a morning filled with physical challenges they stand with their classmates to hear an address by the Regimental Commander that ends with the sweet words, “The 4th Class System in no longer in effect.” After the announcement the upperclass cadets in the company recognize the 4th Class cadets by using their first names for the first time all year.

A 4th Class cadet carries and upperclass cadet at one of the stations during the "Gauntlet."

A 4th Class cadet carries and upperclass cadet at one of the stations during the “Gauntlet. photo by Stacy Carter Photography Studios

I heard some grumbling from parents of upperclass cadets and alumni that the changes instituted this year for Recognition Day would undermine the bond the classes formed. I also read several comments by alumni who said that the day has changed so much from their time at The Citadel it doesn’t seem like it has the same significance. Once the day came and went I heard from scores of people who attended and talked of the espirt de corps they witnessed and what a terrific day it was for all cadets.

Before I continue I must acknowledge that I never went through a 4th class system, my son did. It also needs to be brought to everyones attention that recognition day used to be at the very end of the year. The grads from the ’60’s wonder why it is so early before final exams. Others point out that parents would never have witnessed their recognition day. There was no gauntlet, or march to  Marion Square in years past. Those activities started in 2007.

Knobs crawl during one of the exercises as part of the "Gauntlet." photo by Stacy Carter Photography Studios

Knobs crawl during one of the exercises as part of the “Gauntlet.”
photo by Stacy Carter Photography Studios

Carl Carraway, the father of a 2018 cadet and a 1983 graduate of The Citadel wrote a very good review of this past Saturday’s events and posted it to the 2018 parent group. He gave me permission to post his thoughts here:

We all know things change over time. The system moves up, down, left, right, here, there, back and forth, but it is still an intense and demanding system. Recognition Day is different than the one we experienced in ’80. Yesterday our son was recognized along with the rest of the Class of 2018. Prior to yesterday, I had the same opinion (as many alumni) about parents watching the Gauntlet on the parade ground – it should be a closed, private event – based ONLY on my experience in ’80. I initially decided to not attend, but fortunately I changed my mind on Friday. Even though the event is held in public view, it it still a very private event for the cadets – knobs and upperclassmen. Their focus is still just as ours was during our own respective Recognition Days.

Recognition Day started with a PT run at 0530 hrs, leadership classes (yes, leadership – imagine that), followed by the Gauntlet on the Parade Ground at 1030 hrs, a “running tour” of the campus, and finally the class set of pushups. As one who had joked about the Gauntlet in the past, I was very impressed with the intensity, demands, and duration of the Gauntlet and how professionally The Citadel now handles Recognition Day. From the prospective of an alumus, I was proud to watch the Class of 2018 going through the paces. The social media world in which we live allows parents to hover over their cadets during their knob year… and their upperclass years. Yesterday the knobs took the scissors away from the doctor and cut the social media umbilical cords. Many parents witnessed their sons and daughters facing physical and mental challenges they could never image – the cadets proving to themselves and not the world that they are on a road less traveled. That is one of the many outstanding outcomes of The Citadel.

The icing on the cake was the freshmen marching to Marion Square in their dress whites at 1500 hrs to reaffirm their cadet oath. The 2 mile march (each way) was an impressive exclamation mark for the day’s events! In case you are wondering, yes, I walked the entire march down and back on the sidewalk along with a handful of other parents.

If I had not observed the Recognition Day activities, I would have missed an outstanding opportunity to watch The Citadel at its best. Next year I plan to be on campus to watch the Class of 2019 go through their paces and take another “walking tour” down and back from Marion Square. 

Cadets work together to flip a tire during the "Gauntlet." photo by Stacy Carter Photography Studios

Cadets work together to flip a tire during the “Gauntlet.”
photo by Stacy Carter Photography Studios

As I wrote in an entry a while back, the only constant is change. Some will resist change, others adapt and move on. The cadets at The Citadel are being given the tools to succeed in business and in life. The Class of 2018 was recognized yesterday after a full day of physical activities.

Before you know it August will be here and the Class of 2019 will matriculate. I guarantee you someone in the class of 2018 will complain that the class of 2019 is getting off easy. The cycle will continue. I’ve volunteered to help parents of cadets for eight years now and I’ve seen it happen each year. Parents need to remember, your cadets are going to vent to you out of frustration, the key is not to join them in their laments. Allow them to vent, offer them support and encouragement. You can even steer them to the place to work out their issues, but don’t join them in their complaining and don’t try to fix their problems. Paul Tamburrino, the VP of the Citadel Alumni Association wrote a blog post for me in September of 2014 about change and The Citadel when the cadets began to complain about the changes the new commandant was instituting. today is a good time to review that entry: The Citadel: Tradition and Change, A Guest Contribution.

4 class cadets crawl toward the company guidon while upperclass cadet try to keep them from the guidon. photo by Stacy Carter Photography Studios

4th class cadets crawl toward the company guidon while upperclass cadet try to keep them from the guidon.
photo by Stacy Carter Photography Studios

Recognition Day for the Class of 2016

Bravo Company and 1st Battalion in Marion Square Recognition Day, 2008

Bravo Company and 1st Battalion in Marion Square Recognition Day, 2008

Recognition Day for The Citadel Class of 2016 is this Saturday, April 13. The year has flown by for me, but I know it hasn’t for the knobs and their parents. Looking back on my own son’s knob year I remember how long it seemed. The following three years past by like it was just one.

There is one aspect of the day I need to emphasize. Recognition Day is for the 4th Class cadets.

I was very surprised that my son came out of the barracks after they were recognized. In the past few years more and more newly recognized cadets come out of the barracks for a hug.

I was very surprised that my son came out of the barracks after they were recognized. In the past few years more and more newly recognized cadets come out of the barracks for a hug.

Each year since 2008 when I first watched the 4th Class cadets march into Marion Square more and more families travel to Charleston to watch the activities Saturday morning. It is important for everyone who does decide to attend to remember that this is their cadets big day, even though you too feel like you have survived knob year. It is a 24 hour period filled with challenges both physical and mental for the knobs.

While you can now observe the gauntlet, a series of activities performed on the parade field or the WLI field, you should not cheer or get in the way of the activities. Bring a chair, watch from a distance, take photos from a distance, visit with other parents, but do not interact with the cadets.

In 2008 we arrived in Charleston before noon to watch the march into Marion Square. I was surprised to see some people gathered around the sallyport gates watching what was happening inside. We got out of the car just in time to hear the announcement, “The fourth class system in no longer in effect!”

Many alumni do not understand why parents now come to campus for Recognition Day. The tradition has changed from their time as cadets. The significance of the day for the 4th Class cadets has not changed. Don’t be surprised if a friend who is also a graduate of the school doesn’t understand why you are going to the campus.

For parents who cannot be on campus for the activities, the phone call you will get from your cadet will be one of the best calls you have ever received. The school will post photos and the Facebook groups for parents will be filled with photos and videos.

I look forward to seeing the photos and videos myself. I am hoping the members of the Facebook group, The Citadel: Parents of the Class of 2016, will gather at some point for a group photo.

Congratulations to the Class of 2016!

See the following links for previous posts about Recognition Day.

The Citadel: Recognition Day and Ring Weekend

Recognition Day the Best Day of the Year for Knobs

The members of Bravo Company, '11, march into Marion Square led by their company commander.

The members of Bravo Company, ’11, march into Marion Square led by their company commander.

The Citadel: Most Common Search Terms

I reviewed the statistics of this blog site today. In my early career I worked in sports information at the college level. The sports information director’s office, or commonly known as the SID office, keeps track of all the statistics for all the varsity sports at a college or university. Looking at stats and trying to interpret them holds a deep rooted fascination for me.

The 2011 Summerall Guards run with the 2012 BVA's the Friday of Corps Day Weekend. photo by Stanley Leary.

When I looked at the search terms used to find the blog I found out of 389 known terms 104 of them related to the Summerall Guards or Bond Volunteer Aspirants. 94 terms had to do with knob year, matriculation day and/or recognition day.  The other roughly 50% had to do with ROTC, general cadet life, and active duty military terms.

The fact that so many people searched for Summerall Guard information and knob year information isn’t too surprising. Both knob year and the Summerall Guards are activities at The Citadel surrounded with mystic and intrigue, mostly by design.

The 4th Class System is designed to make first year cadets learn to follow orders. The knobs are kept dependent on the upperclass cadets for information. Their first year is tough, but they learn to support their classmates and pull together as a team. The system has been in place for years with minor changes. While the knobs are going through their most challenging year their parents are often in the dark as well and end up turning to search engines and the collective knowledge of other parents to help them through.

By junior year some cadets decide to try out to be part of the elite silent drill squad, the Summerall Guards. The cadets who decide to do this are called Bond Volunteer Aspirants (BVA).  They aspire to be Summerall Guards and voluntarily go through a very demanding training regiment. By junior year many of the  BVA’s hold a high rank in the cadet chain of command which is like having a full-time job on top of a full-time course load. The BVA training is demanding both physically and mentally. It is not unusual for normally communicative cadets to have little communication with their families during this demanding year. All types of rules surround what knobs can and can’t know about the BVA’s and Summerall Guards which builds the mystic and fascination with the entire process.

Class of 2015 knobs head to lunch on Matriculation Day.

While quite different in their dynamics, knob year and BVA year are very similar. They are both bound by years of tradition and time-honored secrecy about the process. So it is not surprising that parents and friends turn to search engines to gain knowledge about both processes.

I’ve written about both knob year and the BVA/Summerall Guard process. Links to the most viewed blog entries and pages follow.

The Citadel: Preparing for Knob Year, Class of 2016

BVA’s and Summerall Guards: Cuts Day, Mardi Gras and Corps Day

Recognition Day the Best Day of the Year for Knobs

Information for Parents about the BVA’s and Summerall Guards

For Parents of BVA’s as you wait for Cuts Day

Special Weekends: Parents Weekend, Homecoming, Corps Day, Recognition Day

Matriculation Day: Getting Ready

Recognition Day the Best Day of the Year for Knobs

Bravo '11 knobs line up the morning of Rec. Day photo found on FacebookEach day we get just that much closer to the day all knobs live for, Recognition Day. It is the day that first year cadets hear the announcement, “The fourth class system is no longer in effect.”  You can find the date of Recognition day on the Yearly Planning Calendar posted to the Office of the Commandant page. You can also put Recognition Day in the search window of the main page to find information. The current year’s activities usually aren’t posted until about a month ahead.

I read the book, “In the Company of Men,” by Nancy Mace second semester of my cadets knob year. It really helped me understand the process my son was going through. You can find the book through Amazon.

Over the years the activities and schedule has changed but the significance has not. In the last 4 years more family members arrive in Charleston to watch the events of Saturday from a distance. The morning starts very early with physical training (PT) and is followed by a series of challenges. The morning ends in the barracks where the knobs run through a last set of push ups. There is a lunch served in each battalion. We watched through the sallyport gates. You can find several videos of the last few minutes when the announcement is made. Put The Citadel Recognition Day in the YouTube search window to find more videos.The Commandants page posted a PowerPoint in 2011 of the days events. You’ll get tired just reading about the day.

Remember, if you do attend Recognition Day it is not a time for you to visit with your cadet. You will mostly watch from a distance. Some families do get to congratulate their cadet after their lunch. Some see them after their Recognition Day dinner. Sunday morning brunch is a time you can most likely get to spend some time. In our case our son and his friend decided they would rather come back to the hotel Saturday night with us than go out with their buddies. Most families I’ve heard from say their cadet goes out with their friends to celebrate. Like everything else at The Citadel Ask your cadet what they want to do.

Bravo, '11 Rec Day photo found on Facebook

Last year I wrote about the two times in the life of a cadet that they express sheer joy. Recognition Day is the first. Ring Weekend is the second. I posted photos in two different albums on Facebook. Here is the first and this is the second. A letter to families posted by the Citadel Foundation from the President of the Class of 2012 is here. He describes the day.

The Citadel, Class of 2011 arrive in Marion Square to recite the Cadet Oath. photo by Dorie Griggs

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