Sophomore year (three-degree)
As cadets begin their 3-degree year, they in-process to a new squadron. The assigned squadron becomes their permanent squadron for their remaining three years at the Academy. This change is sometimes referred to as the upperclassman shuffle.
During the fall semester, three-degree (sophomore) cadets select and honor their class exemplar who becomes the honorary class leader and namesake. Since the Class of 2000, each class has chosen someone who “exemplifies” the type of person the class wishes to emulate. The third-class cadets celebrate this selection at a formal Exemplar Dinner with their graduated Legacy Class members in attendance.
Junior year (two-degree)
Commitment Dinner is usually held the day before classes start. Once the cadets return to the Academy for their second-class year, they incur the financial or active duty “commitment” for their education if they depart the Academy prior to graduation. This profound commitment to the Air Force or Space Force is celebrated with a formal dinner. The Class Spirit Committee works with the Cadet Wing to give each cadet a coin to honor the event.
This formal ball is exclusively for two-degree (junior) cadets. It is held during Graduation Week, before the second-class cadets become first-class cadets, and is where they receive their class rings and unveil the class crest. The rings are traditionally placed in a glass of champagne and are caught in the teeth following a toast. Academy rings are unique because they are made with white gold, instead of the yellow gold used at other service academies. Designed by each class, one side of the ring bears the Academy crest, while the other side bears the class crest, which always includes elements from the Class of 1959’s crest: the class number, the class year, the Polaris star and the eagle.