Editorial: The pros and cons of decorating grad caps

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After four years of hard work and perseverance, seniors rejoice in their final shining moment of high school: graduation day. Weeks before the graduation ceremony, seniors carefully pick out their stoles, medals and cords. Beginning in 2017, Lynbrook seniors have been able to decorate graduation caps to their personal liking. The graduation cap finishes off the ensemble, a canvas that displays the distinct personality of each student. It is often adorned with students’ college logos, while other times it can be decorated with an inspirational quote or a “thank you.” Although decorated caps are a longstanding high school tradition, they can have a negative impact on students who are not attending “big name” colleges for various reasons, personal or financial.

Some seniors are discouraged after seeing their peers’ top-tier college decisions. Although larger stigmas exist in regard to what college a student does or does not attend, they can be especially amplified during graduation day.

“I think the stigma is a larger issue, and decorating graduation caps just highlights this stigma,” said assistant principal Brooke Chan. “If people are comparing themselves to others, I think that is the nature of social media and other factors.”

Another case is brought up when talking about sharing college information on graduation caps: most college decisions are already made public by the time of graduation day. Weeks before graduation day, most students have shared where they are going to college, whether it be through social media or wearing clothing with college logos. Since students already know about each other’s college acceptances before graduation, it begs the question of whether cap logos are necessary.

While their decorations must adhere to school regulations, students have considerable freedom in expressing themselves. Since the seniors’ gowns are the same color and style, graduation caps are the only part of their outfits that seniors can make unique.

“[Decorating graduation caps] allows people to show a more detailed insight of who they genuinely are in their personalities, passions and what they love,” said senior Sharon Noelle Lee.

Not only does decorating graduation caps allow seniors to add a unique aspect to their graduation uniform, but it also encourages them to spend time with one another during their final weeks of high school.

“Being able to decorate our caps is an opportunity for the graduating class to show the each other their future homes one last time and adding the college is becoming a Lynbrook tradition,” said senior Joshua Chiang, who will be attending Harvard University in the fall. “Oftentimes, students feel a sense of pride in displaying their college of choice, an image that represents the culmination of their high school journey.”

Providing seniors the option to represent the college they are attending on their graduation caps has its pros and cons. Given both the potential ramifications of the stigma around colleges and the benefits of allowing students to express themselves, the issue of permitting students to decorate their grad caps will remain something to carefully evaluate in future years.