Fight for the right to decorate graduation caps


Illustration by Lee Judilla

As graduation approaches, I’m not thinking about much except for leaving almost the entire senior class in the dust, except for a few lucky people, as I move onto bigger and better things. The last thing on my mind is why we can’t decorate our graduation caps and why that would even be important to anyone in particular.

I found out that it’s actually a much bigger deal than I thought it was.

I realized that it was a big deal when Jack Farag (12), the student council executive board president, came up to me and a friend of mine and asked for us to sign a petition to allow the seniors to decorate their graduation caps. Farag has high hopes that since he has received about 200 signatures at the time of publishing, the administration may consider changing it for the graduating class of 2019.

“Graduation is a big celebration-a big ceremony,” Farag said. “It’s not all about conformity and just doing the boring grey caps…We really earned [the opportunity to decorate the graduation caps].”

Thinking about it more, decorating a graduation cap would be fun, as I can already see my friends and I sitting in a pile of glitter, glue and other crafting utensils, working on our own designs. That may never happen, even with the success of the petition as it reached almost the entire senior class.

When speaking with Assistant Principal Mr. Stilling, he said that it is very unlikely that the petition will have any influence on changing the rule. The rule itself is verbally given to the class during the senior assembly the Friday before prom and is not anywhere in the student handbook.

“We want to recognize you guys as seniors, and we want to try and keep it a classy celebration…We want people to act classy while they are in the audience,” Stilling said, making a nod toward the no-cheering rule that is stated in the commencement pamphlet sent to families.

Prohibiting cheering makes sense, as it takes up time, blocks the sound of the next name announcement, and is frankly annoying to hear. However, I do not think decorating a cap will take away from the celebration in a negative way, even if it may not be as “classy” as Stilling says.

Some students do not think that decorating a graduation cap will take away from the ceremony, and the rule can actually prohibit the full celebration of graduation. Nicole Barrus (12) felt it was necessary to sign the petition, as she would enjoy decorating her cap this May.

“I understand the school would be like ‘It might be too distracting, and we want everyone to look the same and equal,” Barrus said. “I also feel like if you want to celebrate everyone’s graduation, why not have them have at least something different and a little unique that they made themselves?”

Maggie Barrios (12) does not deem the rule change to be necessary and doesn’t mind it. She thinks the decorating process would be a sight to see, as she knows many students that are very artistic and creative and would like to see that creativity on their graduation caps.

The option to design the cap appropriately is something that appeals to many students, especially those with artistic abilities — something I do not have. Lee Judilla (12), the artist of the illustration on the page, has a design in mind, and it goes against concerns that students would decorate them with the colleges they will be attending or just writing funny messages.

“I was thinking of doing something simple in a font with a little quote that would encourage me…I was thinking of doing something like ‘Don’t worry, baby’ from the Beach Boys, maybe just a message to myself” Judilla said, focusing more on quotations than decorations.

If I had the chance to decorate my cap this year, I’d either doodle on it nonsensically or ask friends to make tiny doodles and tape them on. That way, I can display art that others have created. As I’ve said, I’m not artistic in any sense of the word. This plain decoration will have to wait for another three or four years when I graduate college, maybe with an artistic ability to do something more.