Should students be allowed to decorate their graduation caps?


Lily Tran and Kylie Yamada

Lily Tran: pro

For seniors, graduation is a symbolic ceremony that celebrates a personal milestone: finishing high school. So it only seems fair to allow graduating students the opportunity to personalize their grad caps to reflect their personal interests and personality.

The only decoration seniors are currently allowed to wear are badges of extraneous academic performances — sashes for being a part of leadership, honor cords for tutoring, or a stole for completing 30+ volunteer hours for NHS. Aside from that, everyone looks plain and ordinary and uniform … too uniform.

Graduation ceremonies are inherently generic as an endless list of names is read to a smattering of applause or loud cheering. Students find themselves herded like cattle through the procession — their reward for slaving away in high school for years only to be denied the opportunity to express themselves and their happiness in graduating.

When a graduate’s name is called, they only get a few seconds and a tiny moment to savor their success. Then the next name is called and that’s it. Decorated caps would give graduates a way to celebrate their personal success throughout the entire ceremony rather than just having a short walk across a stage.

Decorating caps gives students the opportunity to showcase their creativity, their individuality and their personal success. Some seniors like to put their future college on their caps to show that they’re really graduating and moving on to bigger things.

Students should be free to express themselves during their graduation. The First Amendment ensures freedom of speech, and denying students the right to decorate their caps is a violation of that right. They should be able to use that right and say or express what they want on their grad caps, as long as the decoration does not violate the school dress code.

The possibility of students inappropriately decorating their caps with insensitive, vulgar or ignorant content is fairly low. They aren’t going to risk giving up graduation for a joke. Administration could just take away the inappropriately decorated caps or not allow them to walk.

Besides, graduation is supposed to be about each individual, and not just the class. Allowing students to decorate their caps gives them that opportunity to bask in their impending future and success.

Kylie Yamada: Con

The graduation ceremony is one of the most memorable and iconic parts of American high school culture. In the last few weeks of the school term, social media is filled with tweets and pictures of students celebrating their newfound freedom, including some students wearing graduation caps elaborately decorated with pictures, glitter and paint.

Here at Bear Creek, however, graduates have been restricted from decorating their caps for years. For the more artistically inclined of Bear Creek’s population, this restriction is an outrage and violates students’ rights to self-expression.

However, decorating graduation caps can force the ceremony to become a competition between students. A moment which should be about achievement and community could turn into an event which only highlights certain students — and not necessarily for academic reasons.

Decorated graduation caps can include anything from pop culture references to showcasing students’ pride to political statements. Caps which are designed to go viral may conflict with other students’ hopes for their own graduation. If you’ve waited 18 years to finally graduate from high school and there’s a guy a row in front of you with memes on his cap, it might ruin the moment.

Maybe it seems humorless, but graduation carries so much meaning for each person in the auditorium. A high school graduation means just as much to a graduate’s parents as it does to the graduate. Should we really allow for one impulsive teenager to ruin such an important time?

In addition, a high school graduation provides a sense of unity for all seniors which teenagers rarely find elsewhere. Despite all of the drama and all of the fights students go through, graduation is a time where a senior class of hundreds can look at each other and realize that this is a day which they will all share together. Let’s make sure the experience stays just as enjoyable for every graduate.