Decorate gate

May 31, 2019, 2:11 p.m. | By Reethi Padmanabhan | 5 years ago

Cap decorations would serve as an outlet for expression and individuality

A few weeks ago, Blair seniors gathered in the auditorium for a discussion of important upcoming dates and deadlines. While reviewing graduation details, many seniors were made aware of a confusing, yet firm rule: seniors are prohibited from decorating their caps, in any manner, over concerns over inappropriate designs. Yet, simply put, students should be able to express themselves through their caps.

On a daily basis, clothing serves as an outlet for personal style and creativity. Our clothes allow us to define ourselves as individual students among thousands of others. Yet while we are allowed to celebrate the diversity in our personalities through our attire choices, the limiting cap decoration policy implies that this diversity is not nearly as important on one of the most critical days of our life: graduation.

As we walk across the stage, our families excitedly gather to recognize our achievements spanning the past four years, but no one shares the same journey, same accomplishments, or same dreams throughout high school. It should follow that we be allowed a chance to represent our distinct ideas and insights as we make our way towards the platform, whether it be the logo of our future college, a graduation pun, or our favorite quote.

Beyond allowing for a myriad of creative possibilities, cap decorations might also help make large graduating classes seem smaller. In fact, this year’s tremendous graduating class of nearly 800 Blazers is the largest in Maryland. Given the sheer quantity of students with class sizes that appear to be growing annually, unique cap decorations could allow students to feel uniquely special, rather than simply a face (and cap!) in the crowd.

Moreover, the no-decoration policy is not implemented countywide, as other MCPS schools allow students to express themselves creatively on their graduation day. A senior planning document from Damascus High School for the 2018-2019 school year reveals that students may decorate their caps, so long as the decorations “meet the expectations of the Damascus High School and MCPS Code of Conduct”.

The main concern over cap decoration appears to stem from the potential for improper designs, such as obscenity or inappropriate symbols that may offend Blair’s diverse array of families at graduation.

“At Blair we have over 93 different nationalities in our population and someone saying something as silly as ‘good luck’ in another language could be offensive to other people,” principal Renay Johnson says. “It’s my responsibility to make sure that, number one, students can choose their gown, red or white, but also to make sure that it’s a dignified event and families feel celebrated and no one sees something as a derogatory term.”

As an alternative to eliminating all cap designs, Blair administration could implement an improved policy where seniors interested in adorning their caps be required to have their decoration pre-approved instead. In this way, students could still express their creativity or excitement without feeling constrained while still satisfying school requirements. Taking into consideration the limited time between cap and gown pickup and graduation, an alternate solution could involve a policy where staff members check and approve students’ caps as they enter the building for graduation, confiscating any caps with offensive designs.

On the bright side, Blair administration has been flexible in the past in changing graduation-attire policies. Although female students traditionally adorned white gowns while males wore red for many years, it was only a few years ago in 2016 that this rule was modernized so that students could select gowns in the color of their choice. Perhaps with sufficient discussion and improvements such as the pre-approval requirement, the decoration policy could also be updated as necessary.

Whether it be a way to appreciate the diversity of Blair students, an opportunity to make a large student body feel smaller, or simply a fun activity for severe senioritis victims, cap decorations holds numerous invaluable possibilities. Going forward, we should work with Blair staff to ensure we can positively express ourselves without crossing the line. Design or no design, we can all agree that graduation is an event to be cherished.

Last updated: May 31, 2019, 2:11 p.m.

Tags: Blair Graduation

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