In 2008, a new Stonehill College tradition was born: the selection of a Senior Class Shovel. Each year, the president of the senior class selects a shovel to represent the class from the Arnold B. Tofias Archives, more commonly known as the Ames Shovel Museum. In a formal address delivered at Academic Convocation in late August, the senior class president describes the shovel and its connection to class that will graduate in May. The president of the college receives and recognizes the shovel, which then finds its home for the academic year on display on the first floor of MacPhaidin Library. The tradition serves as a mechanism to connect the Stonehill community to the college’s rich historical connection to the Ames family and their influence on the world’s industrial framework through their shovels.

Class of 2023: President Emily Hartford
  • Shovel With Pick Handle (1973-668)
  • Materials: Wood, steel
  • Dimensions: 54.87 x 9.5 x 11.87 inches
  • Description: Flat blade shovel with removable pick handle.
  • From Hartford's speech: "This year I have selected the square point blade shovels with ice pick handle... After looking through all the shovel, this one stood out to me because of our unique college experience, with our fist year being shortened due to COVID.  All of the 783 shovels are in fact different in their own way, just like each and every one of use, but his can be applied to each class that comes through Stonehill.  However, for the Class of 2023, we have experienced a different college journey than most."
Class of 2022: President Kemuel Navarrete
  • Sheffield "Heart" Shape blade shovel (1973-615)
  • Materials: Wood, steel, paper
  • Dimensions:53 x 10 x 9 inches
  • Description: Shove with heart-shaped blade.
  • From Navarrete's speech: "This year I have chosen the Sheffield "heart" shape blade shovel to represent the class of 2022. There isn't much information on this shovel which is why it intrigued me. We can only guess what it could’ve been used for, whether it was for digging something specific, weeding, or just made as a prototype and never largely manufactured. Out of the 783 shovels in our museum, this one stood out to me because of its heart shaped blade. My first thought when I saw this shovel was the Stonehill saying we have all seen on shirts and stickers that says, “Strong Minds, Stronger Hearts.” This saying is evident through our continued academic achievements, NE10 championships and strong community. The past 18 months have been the hardest of our lives. We survived and excelled through a pandemic, came together to fight racial injustice, and throughout it all have come closer as one community, one school, one Hill. We would not have been able to do this without our strong minds, and even stronger hearts."
Class of 2021: President Brendan Ferrick
  • Caste Steel Shovel (1973-64)
  • Materials: Wood, steel
  • Dimensions: 35 x 4.62 x 10.5 inches
  • Description: Caste Steel shovel with a second handle for over-the-shoulder work.
  • From Ferrick's speech: "This year I chose the Cast Steel Second Handled Shovel. Now I know what you may be thinking, “does he know how weird that shovel looks?” I did note the strange design of this shovel, and the moment I saw it I knew this was the perfect choice for our senior class. I think this strange but useful design embodies the current strange life we are living in right now in the midst of this pandemic. Not much is known about this shovel other than the quirky design and its function, along with the materials it is made of. I will mention first the materials. Cast steel, a tough and resilient metal, built to take a beating and come out ok when the work is done. I compare this to not only our senior class, but our community as a whole during these uncertain and trying times. Stonehill is resilient and our senior class is strong. Now I ask you again to look at that wild extra handle, that seems to be, if anything, counterintuitive in function. That handle is used to make it easier to lift and toss dirt, and to take some of the strain off of your back and shoulders during a hard day’s work. This reminds me of how important it is to have support systems in your life, and how this community has the capability and even obligation to come together to keep each other safe; not only from this pandemic, but from all the struggles life may throw at us. I will leave you all with this, be strong like steel not only now, but in life. Be supportive of each other and know that you are supported. Be like a cast steel second handled shovel."
Class of 2020: President Alison Cashin
  • AMES EAGLE #6 SPADE (1973-528)
  • Shovel ID Number: 574
  • Materials: Wood, steel, aluminum
  • Dimensions: 43 x 12 x 8.5 inches
  • Description: Ames heat treated, aluminum alloy, tempered concrete mixing scoop.
  • From Cashin's speech: "This year I have selected the Ames Malleable Iron Potato Scoop.  This shovel is malleable iron with a T. Rowland label and wooden D handle and is believed to have been made in the early 20th century.  This shovel has the overall shape of an Ames Fireman’s shovel designed for removing ash and debris.  It is believed that during the early 20th century, some farmers were in need of a faster and more efficient way of harvesting their crops, in particular potatoes.  What the Ames family did, is take a complex problem, and find a simple, yet innovative solution to the problem.  All they did, was cut these slits into the metal of the shovel to allow the farmers to filter out the dirt and rocks and hold onto the potatoes.

    For me, this is what Stonehill teaches us. Stonehill teaches us to take a complex problem and to be innovators by finding a simple yet effective solution to that problem.  Stonehill teaches us to change the world when we leave here. Just like in any time in our lives, we as students will sometimes face a difficult situation while at college. Whether this is with a class or project, or with friends or with our new found independence, it is normal to have some difficult times while in school. It is important not to let this stress control us.  What we need to do, is we need to find the solution to our problem. Stonehill provides us with the tools needed to become problem solvers. No matter what the problem might be, find your own way of making yourself feel better. Find a solution to your problem whether that is taking a walk, watching an episode or two or three or thirty, call a friend, call a family member. Find your solution and remember to use that when things become difficult instead of letting your stress overwhelm you."
Class of 2019: President Rebecca Merkel
  • O. AMES #3 SPADE (1973-329)
  • Shovel ID Number: 375
  • Materials: Wood, steel, paint
  • Dimensions: 39.5 x 8 x 3.5 inches
  • Description: O. Ames #3 Spade with a square spearhead point blade and wooden D handle.
  • From Merkel's speech: "Thank you, Provost Favazza. This shovel stood out from the 783 shovels in our shovel museum for two reasons: its appearance and its function. This shovel was designed with a steel reinforced handle to enhance its ability to withstand pressure in order to dig further than previous models. Class of 2019, I urge you to push yourselves past your known limits to enact the change you wish to see in our society without the fear of reaching a breaking point. I encourage you to recognize your potential and dig deeper during our last year together. Know that the Stonehill community is behind you and your ambitions, and trust that we will strive to better each other just as the Ames family strove to make each and every shovel better than the last. Thank you."
Class of 2018: President Tyler Normile
  • Shovel ID Number: 374
  • Materials: Wood, steel, paper
  • Dimensions: 40 x 13 x 8.5 inches
  • Description: Malleable iron potato scoop with T. Rowland wooden D handle.
  • From Normile's speech: "This shovel has the overall shape of an Ames Fireman's shovel designed for removing ash and debris. It is believed that during the early 20th century, some farmers were in need of a faster and more efficient way of harvesting their crops, in particular potatoes. What the Ames family did, is take a complex problem, and find a simple, yet innovative solution to the problem. All they did, was cut these slits into the metal of the shovel to allow the farmers to filter out the dirt and rocks and hold onto the potatoes. For me, this is what Stonehill teaches us. Stonehill teaches us to take a complex problem and to be innovators by finding a simple yet effective solution to that problem. Stonehill teaches us to change the world when we leave here."
Class of 2017: President Sarah Gaffney
  • Shovel ID Number: 407
  • Materials: Wood, steel, paper
  • Dimensions: 38.5 x 9 x 6.5 inches
  • Description: Ames # 2 signature branded four star shovel with a round point blade and a split dee handle. Includes shield on blade. #2 refers to the size.  2 was the most common size blade. The four star signature branded shovel was the highest grade shovel manufactured by Ames. The Brand was described by the company as “in a class by itself, representing the best materials and workmanship that can be produced.”
  • From Gaffney's speech: "This shovel was the highest-grade shovel that was manufactured by Ames. While it is important to understand the history and hear the features of this shovel, what stood out to me is the company’s description of it. This particular brand of shovel was labeled as 'a class by itself, representing the best materials and workmanship that can be produced.' To me, I couldn’t imagine a more fitting description for the Stonehill community."
Class of 2016: President Cody Page
  • 1945 FOLDING ENTRENCHING TOOL (1973-307)
  • Shovel ID Number: 353
  • Materials: Wood, steel, paint
  • Dimensions: 28 x 6 x 2.5 inches
  • Description: Round point blade
  • From Page's speech: “What makes this type of shovel unique is its compact stature…it was mainly used as an entrenching tool for digging fox holes but occasionally also used as a weapon in combat. The shovel’s compactness and durability I like to equate to Stonehill…Stonehill’s student body of roughly 2,500 is minuscule compared to larger universities, but our reach appears boundless.”
Class of 2015: President Austin Alfredson
  • Shovel ID Number: 379
  • Materials: wood, steel, and paper
  • Dimensions: 43 x 11 x 8.5 inches
  • Description: An Eastern Patter Breakdown/Coaling Scoop with riveted back construction. Size 2 point scoop, wooden “D” handle, four-star signature blade was the highest quality Ames shovel
  • From Alfredson’s Speech: “This Shovel was used to breakdown coal during the 20th century which fueled innovation for years to come. As for us at Stonehill College, it’s important to do the same - break down the things that hold us back in order to fuel our futures. To the incoming Class of 2018, I challenge you today … to break down stereotypes … And to the Class of 2015, we've come a long way. Let’s continue to break down individual barriers and accomplish the goals we've set out to do.”
Class of 2014: President James Dunn
  • O. AMES #2 CAST STEEL SHOVEL (1973-073)
  • Shovel ID Number: 028
  • Materials: wood, steel, and paper
  • Dimensions: 36 x 9.82 x 5.75 inches
  • Description: A size 2, square point shovel, wooden “D” handle, made of cast steel
  • From Dunn’s Speech: ‘“Track shovels like this one were used in the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad, as a young America expanded its reach from Atlantic to Pacific. Here at Stonehill, we’re each working to build our own paths to the future. …  the members of this class have exceptional potential. Just as the Ames family provided shovels like this to the construction of the great Transcontinental Railroad, Stonehill has given us the tools to realize that potential.”
  • * The Class of 2014 shovel was not formally presented because Convocation was combined with President Denning’s inauguration
Class of 2013: President Lindsay Beauregard
  • O. AMES #3 4-STAR SIGNATURED (1973-204)
  • Shovel ID Number: 250
  • Materials: wood, steel, and paper
  • Dimensions: 39 x 9.5 x 6 inches
  • Description: A round point shovel equipped with the Ames Split Dee Handled and most likely a one piece back shovel. A size three shovel and the highest grade produced
  • From Beauregard’s Speech: “Somewhere between contemplating the never ending question: ‘what kind of shovel best represents our class?’ and getting flooded with ‘This Week at the Farm’ emails, I found the answer - an Ames family farming shovel. … My classmates and I came to Stonehill 3 years ago… We were not fully grown; had not yet reached our full potential. … Like the Farm at Stonehill, the entire Stonehill community ranging from our professors, advisors, administrators, resident directors, and peers have helped us grow into the people we are today. … let’s continue to grow with each other’s help.”
Class of 2012: President Meagan Harrington 
  • Shovel ID Number: No ID
  • Dimensions: 51.125 x 20 x 9.25 inches
  • Description: Fragmented in two pieces, yellow handle, 2 inches from top of fragment of handle still in neck to top of the neck of the blade
  • From Harrington’s Speech: “I would like to ask everyone to think back to what they were doing 10 years ago today. I know I can’t remember what I was doing, but I can remember the tragedies that occurred 10 years ago on September 11th. A New York City police Detective Joseph Wedge a graduate of the Class of 1985 was among the first responders to the attacks… Detective Wedge looked at this shovel as a good luck charm. … The shovel represents the physical and mental sacrifice people made. … I encourage you on your journey to develop a lifelong desire for self-discovery and commitment to service… Just as Joe and his fellow responders followed the values of light and hope, I hope that you too will embrace these values.”
Class of 2011: President Matthew Gorman
  • Shovel ID Number: 354
  • Materials: wood, steel, and paint
  • Dimensions: 22 x 7 x 2 inches
  • Description: T-handle; round point blade
  • From Gorman's Speech: "This small, yet sturdy tool is a symbol of the sacrifices that many of our grandparents and relative made serving our country sixty years ago... This shovel is also a representation of the values present in our community today. An embodiment of the fact that true fulfillment comes from serving causes greater than oneself. ... to my seniors, my fellow classmates and friends: you have shown what it means to be agents of compassion - logging hundreds of hours of service and touching countless lives during the last three years. Let us keep that spirit of service - this time as the leaders of the student body -- as we prepare to take what we have learned within these walls out into the real world. 
Class of 2010: President Kevin Driscoll
  • ANDERSON #8; A (1973-440)
  • Shovel ID Number: 486
  • Materials: wood, steel, and paper
  • Dimensions: 42.75 x 12.5 x 7.5 inches
  • Description: Believed to be wooden "D" breakdown shovel
  • From Driscoll’s Speech: “ I chose a shovel that I thought best brought out the qualities of strength, determination, and hope. We are not digging ourselves out of a hole, but rather using this shovel to create a new America. It starts right here, especially with the seniors who will soon be entering the workforce with new ideas, a vibrant energy, and recognition of the fact that
Class of 2009: President Wes Evans
  • Shovel ID Number: 626
  • Materials: wood, steel, and paper
  • Dimensions: 38.5 x 9.75 x 6.25 inches
  • Description: Round point blade, "Y" handle, crest on blade
  • From Evans’s Speech: “As the students, faculty, and staff view this shovel on display in the library, I would hope that we take the time to recognize the history and tradition behind the land and people which form Stonehill College. the Ames family produced a visible seventh generation effect evident today at this convocation. … So today, acknowledge the hard work which has gotten you to this point, assess the ways in which you could improve and realize the tradition which this shovel represents.”
Martin Institute – 2nd floor, room 208

The Archives and Historical Collections Department hosts collections that document the history of Stonehill, Southeastern Massachusetts, and/or support the mission of the College.