Students question change to single color blue graduation caps and gowns

Jacqueline Guillena, Staff Writer

When Bear Creek High School opened in 1991, the first graduating classes dreamed of the moment they would be able to don their blue and silver caps and gowns as they walked across the stage clutching their hard-earned diplomas.
Since the school opened, males have worn blue gowns, while females have worn silver. The trend for having dual-colored gowns at graduation started in 1992 when Lodi High had their males wear red gowns and females wear white. All other high schools in LUSD had all their students wear the same color, but then jumped on the dual-colored bandwagon trend in 1993 following Lodi’s example. However, beginning this year, the color of Bear Creek’s graduation gowns will now be royal blue for both males and females.
“The main reason Principal Hillary Harrell and I made the decision for everyone to be wearing the same color is because we feel everyone will be all united under one color and to make all one entity,” Principal Secretary Cori Abel said.
Although the idea sounds good in theory, many students — particularly females — have expressed concern for the color restriction, saying the change stems from gender identity issues, not necessarily concern for aesthetic unity.
“If someone identifies themselves as either a male or female, then they should have the option to choose their gown color,” senior Jasmine Asfour said. “Why spend so many years having dual colors then all of a sudden the school changes it to solid out of nowhere.”
Abel’s explanation for the change was provided at a graduation meeting for seniors; unfortunately, due to miscommunication, only five students were in attendance.
“Only about five seniors showed up to the meeting, so we told those students to spread the word and also told the senior representatives to spread it,” Abel said.
Senior Kendra Sanchez created a Twitter poll to survey students about the change. Of the 114 students who responded, 78 were against changing to a single color choice while 36 approved. Other students have expressed a desire to decorate the tops of their graduation caps, but Bear Creek administration does not permit altering or decorating any part of the graduation attire.
“I remember talking to seniors from last year, and I recall that they said if anyone were to decorate their graduation cap, they weren’t able to walk so myself and a few other seniors are thinking of starting a petition to be able to decorate our caps,” Sanchez said.
Abel confirmed that seniors are not allowed to decorate or add to their graduation attire.
“It’s a school rule that students are not able to add or decorate their graduation cap and gown, and if they do they will not be part of the ceremony,” Abel said. “The rules aren’t new — students will be signing an agreement contract sometime in March about behavior and dress code.”
To perhaps assuage the feelings of those who do not support the change, administrators say plans are in the works to incorporate silver accessories in the future.
“We plan to have each student wear a silver stole and have pins representing the clubs and the activities the student has done in high school,” Abel said.