Hats off to Freedom of Expression


Courtesy of Creative Commons

It’s the day of your senior graduation. You grab the adorable sundress that has been hanging in your closet for months,  put on the shoes that you’ve practiced walking in every day for the past week, grab your gown and put on your personalized graduation cap. Wait just a minute. You can’t.

Here at Presentation, decorated graduation caps are forbidden. The caps must look exactly the same, with a royal blue top. There are no exceptions. So if a student wants to proudly don her college’s logo, give the audience a view of a funny joke, or bedazzle her name into her cap, she is not allowed to do so .

This just doesn’t seem fair. Presentation students keep their caps and gowns after graduation, so there is no reason for this rigidity in rules. Students should be allowed to decorate their caps at graduation.

Self-expression should be an important part of a graduation. At Presentation High School, we wear our plaid skirts almost every day for four years. We wear shirts and socks in the uniform colors and are sure to wear our white polo and sweater on formal days. We all wear dresses and blue gowns on graduation day. Aren’t these conformities sufficient? Students should be able to express this individualism on their last day at Presentation ever.

The Presentation graduate should be able to take pride in the school she will be attending. At Saint Francis High School in Mountain View, students decorate their caps with the logos or mascots of the schools that they will be attending. This shows their fellow students, as well as other attendees of the graduation, the students’ future plans.

The Presentation administration may worry that students who are not attending college may feel left out if students are permitted to decorate their caps. However, there are other options to decorating, such as putting a funny joke or pun on the cap or bedazzling one’s name into one’s cap.

The administration must remember that it is the students’ graduation. Many factors of the graduation are already determined for the students of Presentation’s class of 2016. The ceremony will be in the gym, the gowns and caps will be royal blue and the event will be held on May 28, 2016 (the same day, I might add, as those of Mitty, St. Francis and Bellarmine, but that’s another problem).

Adversaries to the freedom of graduation cap movement may say that graduation is meant to be taken seriously, and frilly, sparkly caps take away from the ceremony. But how is emphasizing one’s future plans through her cap not taking it seriously? If anything, the student’s focus on the future contributes to the significance of the high school graduation.

Of course, the caps should have some restrictions, such as that they cannot have large, three-dimensional decorations that distract from the event or block the views of the attendees. Additionally, the students’ caps should only use school appropriate-language. Other than these regulations, the Presentation graduates should be able to decorate their caps as they please, whether that be with their college’s logo or with their name.

At this point, many readers may be asking themselves the same question. Why is this being written about in December? Well, maybe if enough of us stand up to this unnecessary and stringent policy, we can lift the ban on self-expression through grad caps for the Class of 2016.