Garrison Forest School - Traditions


Garrison Forest has numerous traditions that speak to and underscore the school’s spirit.

The school flower is the blue cornflower or bachelor’s button, Centaurea cyanus, was chosen by Miss Livingston. Graduating seniors during her era wore white dresses and carried arm bouquets of the simple blossoms. The tradition has continued with each graduating senior carrying a bouquet of the blue flowers wrapped in flowing blue ribbons, which the school called “Ragged Robins.” Actually, the Ragged Robin, Lychnis flos-cuculi, is not a cornflower at all, though like the cornflower, is naturalized as a wildflower in the Northeast. Regardless of any understandable confusion between common names for plants, Garrison Forest’s Ragged Robin is much beloved. At Garrison Forest, the term “Ragged Robins” applies to three longstanding traditions—the school flower, the yearbook, and the student a cappella group.

The Garrison Forest Alma Mater has lyrics written by founding headmistress Mary Moncrieffe Livingston, which are sung to the tune of her favorite Episcopal hymn, God, the Omnipotent by Alexis Lvov (1798–1870):

"Hail, Gladdening Light, Our lamp of wisdom, Hail! Shine with a radiance, Which can never fail. Illumined by thy rays., May thus our motto gleam, And show our desire, 'To be and not to seem.'

Polished and fitted true, May each to each stand fast, Firm as the stones, In Temple corners cast. Strong and enduring be, Our love and loyalty, For School and for Comrades, And for Victory!"

Adopted in 1929, the original Garrison Forest School crest depicts a tree upholding a lamp, the symbol of education, with Garrison Forest’s motto emblazoned beneath: Esse Quam Videri. The large tree in the seal resembles a White Oak, Quercus alba. Known for its majestic stature, wide branches, and longevity, the White Oak is the state tree of Maryland.

The school colors of light blue and dark blue inspired the at least 90-year-old tradition of sorting the students and faculty into spirit teams of Light Blue and Dark Blue. In a friendly competition, these teams compete for points during the academic year through service and leadership participation and during Spirit Days. At the end of the school year, awards are given in each division (Lower School through Upper School) for the winning team and the most spirited class.

Garrison Forest School’s Service League, a comprehensive community service umbrella organization with local, national, and international outreach, was founded by students in 1942 as a response to helping on the home front. Decades earlier, students helped in the local fields while farmers were fighting in World War I. While community service is not required of Garrison Forest students, more than 75 percent of students participate in numerous activities each year. Since 2004, the GFS faculty, staff, and administrators have sponsored a Habitat for Humanity house in Baltimore, an annual project that grew out of the school’s initial reaction to Hurricane Hugo. The first GFS Habitat house was given to a family who relocated from New Orleans to Baltimore post-hurricane.

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