Cap and frown


Zack Misner

A Davenport West High student demonstrates a bare graduation cap.

Zack Misner, Reporter

Students work towards a singular goal throughout their high school career and that is graduation. Graduation is a ceremony where a family can look on with pride as their student walks into the next stage of their lives. However, they are unable to be as expressive as is shown on TV. West High students are unable to decorate their caps with personal designs.

“I am not sure when the rule was put into place exactly, but it was here when I graduated in 1990, so I would have to say at least 27 years. But it probably has been longer. As to why the rule has been put into place, a couple of things come to mind. With the first being that it is a very, very formal ceremony and I believe that most of the students would be able to handle decorating their caps, but there would be a few who would put inappropriate designs on their caps. Also since it is so formal, would we want to take away from their accomplishments by focusing on what is on their cap?” senior administrator Mike Garnica said.

 Some students feel that this takes away a student’s First Amendment right of freedom of expression.

“I think it is weird that we can’t decorate our caps because we pay money for them so they are ours, so I think that it’s strange that they are taking away our creativity. I mean you always see it in movies and you can do it in college, so I don’t know why we can’t do it as well,” senior Sophia Buckley said.

While Buckley is well-versed with the rule since she is the head of Student Senate, other seniors weren’t even aware of the policy.

“I didn’t know that we [seniors] couldn’t decorate them [caps]. I was planning on bedazzling my cap, like I’ve seen people do and I wasn’t too sure if it was a thing, and now I’m sad. I think we can’t do it because they’re all like ‘Oh, not everyone would do it, and everyone has to be uniformed and all formal,’ I just think it’s so unfair,” senior Allison Cheatheam said.

Cheatheam is not the only senior who is upset .

“It upsets me because do I pay for that cap and gown, but it goes against my right to express who I am as individual like everything I’ve done in high school. I can’t represent on the biggest stage I will walk across my entire life?” senior Dakota Tello-Goossens said.

Seniors seemingly want to decorate their caps as a sign of individuality and accomplishments.

“I would love to bedazzle my cap, like you know how you see people who have those cool bedazzled ones where they have  something that means a lot to them. Some people put their initials on it or what school things they’re involved in like band or sports. I wouldn’t want to put my initials on it because mine are AC and that’s just sad, but I could put like an A on it and some music notes, that’s how I would bedazzle it,” Cheatheam said.

While Cheatheam has her bedazzling look, some would like to just keep it to a simplistic design which is significant to representing who he/she is when he/she does walk across that stage to signify the end of four years of high school..

“I would probably decorate it with the theater symbol and probably some music stuff because that is what I am involved in and I want people to know that,” Tello-Goossens said.

If the seniors would be able to decorate caps for graduation, then there would have to be some rules and limitation put into place by the school.

“I talked to a couple of teachers and administrators here, their only problems were that it’s a formal ceremony and we can’t control who puts what on their caps, so if something inappropriate were to happen how are they going to control that? How are they going to walk? How are they going to get it verified? So then I thought people would just need to get it verified if they wanted to do it, and if it was inappropriate, then they wouldn’t be able to do it and that seemed like a lot of work, but it was a very cute idea and I liked it,” Buckley explained.

While Buckley thoroughly expressed her opinion and what she has done to attempt to find a solution to the problem, she also shares similar views to English teacher Patricia Sheehey.

“I think that if they were to do it then they would have to check each cap since there will be those students who would just abuse the ability to decorate [their caps]. It would just be a waste of time. I am against it myself actually,” Sheehey said.

Seniors argue that decorating senior caps would effectively express student individuality, but this rule admonishes a chance to show individuality.

“The fact that I cannot decorate my cap is just so irritating.  We spend our entire high school career and they tell us ‘become your own person, develop your own individuality, find your interests, express your personality,’ but when it comes to graduation, we can not show any of that. It is just not right,” Tello-Goossens said.