Decorating graduation caps? A wild idea that may lead to wild results


Braden Weinel

Braden Weinel poses in cap and gown.

by Gabby Llewellyn, Reporter

While it’s nice for students to be able to express themselves, the decoration of graduation caps has many cons that far outweigh the pros.

Graduation already is a hectic time of year. If students were allowed to decorate their caps, someone would need to check each individual cap. While I’d like to say that the students graduating wouldn’t break the guidelines given, there are people who would decorate their caps in an inappropriate manner.

Students even agree with this statement. In a Lancer Media survey, 72.7% said that there would be a problem with students decorating the caps inappropriately. Of those, 63.6% said these issues would be with select students, which would cause the need for everyone’s caps to be checked prior to graduation.

So who would check all of the caps? Would someone volunteer to do it? The entire event is staffed by faculty volunteers who would have to  take on another burden of checking everyone’s cap. And more importantly, if someone put something crude or disrespectful on their cap, would their cap be taken away, or would they not be allowed to walk? Who would even decide what would be appropriate versus inappropriate?

Staff members agree. “If you allow seniors to decorate their caps then who decides what’s appropriate and inappropriate? So, if you have someone from the school deciding what’s appropriate or inappropriate, where are you drawing that line? It’s a really slippery slope, and it could potentially not be fair,” said social studies teacher Jamie Hendi.

Also, not every adult or person at the ceremony knows every symbol or the latest meme. It would be easy for a student to slip something inappropriate by a checkpoint if teachers were to check the caps.

While this is one of the problems that could seemingly easily be fixed, other issues with the decorating of caps exist and could be overlooked by people who want to decorate their caps.

With the decoration of graduation caps, some students could feel left out, especially if they can’t come up with an idea or if they aren’t artistic. Not every student knows exactly what they plan to do following high school, or even have any achievements that they would like to showcase during graduation.

Everyone graduating is equal because they are getting a high school diploma- even if some excelled in school, the diploma means the same.

Class of 2021 member Nicole Golemboski said, “I wouldn’t want to decorate my cap because I feel like mine wouldn’t be as good as other people’s, and that would stress me out.

Most importantly, graduation is a uniform ceremony, and where while each student is individual and unique, graduation serves the purpose of celebrating the collective achievement of the class completing high school and moving on to the future. Decorating graduation caps could disrupt this uniformity of graduation.

Art teacher, Christian Madenspacher, is on the fence. While he does believe students should be able to express their individuality, “Graduation is a traditional and ceremonial practice.”

Students can find other times and places other than graduation to express their individuality and celebrate completing high school. This way graduation can stay professional and uniform. Why not decorate your cap AFTER the ceremony and take photos–better yet, students could buy two caps–one decorated for photos and the other plain.

Statements saying that honors society cords disrupt the uniformity of graduation are not valid. Cords from honors societies are made so that each cord has the same general look, just different colors to differentiate from the different honor societies. This showcases academic achievements while not disrupting the uniformity of graduation.

Students decorating their caps in different manners could not only cause graduation to appear informal due to clashing colors or objects added onto the caps,  but some students could “steal the spotlight” from others if their caps are decorated differently. 

Students decorating their graduation caps would cause issues, disrupt the ceremony’s uniformity, and therefore should not be allowed.