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The Tongva Times

The Tongva Times

The Tongva Times

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Allowing grad cap expression would foster pride, positivity among seniors

Art by: Isabelle Ortiz

   The statistics from the student body survey reflect overwhelming support for personalization and self-expression during graduation ceremonies at Gabrielino High School. With 92.5% in favor of decorating caps, 73.8% supporting the option to wear sashes, stoles, or cords, and a staggering 96.3% advocating for the inclusion of leis, flowers, or posters, it’s evident that the desire for individuality and cultural representation resonates strongly within the senior class.

   The 2022 graduation ceremony marked a change in Gabrielino history, as for the first and only time, seniors walked through the event with caps topped with their desired decorations and cultural garments such as Mexican Sarapes. Walking into the Santa Anita Racetrack filled me with pride for the initiative students took to decorate their caps. I had helped my brother decorate his cap that year, and I saw how much joy individualized caps brought to him and his classmates. None of them felt anger, irritation, or annoyance. Instead was inspiration and hope for this to become the new normal. It gave the students a way to express their self-image and feel accomplished for finishing their high school career. 

   Some may argue that prohibiting cap decorating maintains a sense of uniformity and preserves the solemnity of the occasion. By adhering to strict guidelines, it ensures that the focus remains on academic achievement rather than individual flair. Additionally, concerns about inappropriate or offensive imagery would disrupt the respectful atmosphere.

   However, allowing for some decorations would ignite the inner celebration that we seniors cherish. It allows us to present ourselves as we desire, showcasing our cultural pride and advancing our self-expression. We crave freedom; stepping into the real world with constraints is not the way to embark on our journey.

   Adhering to a code of conduct and eschewing vulgar images or profanity fosters an environment of less uncertainty and more accountability. Finding a middle ground that respects both perspectives would lead to a graduation ceremony that is meaningful, inclusive, and reflective of the collective spirit of Gabrielino.

   “[I] value every single person who is graduating and wishes to be respectful of every individual’s beliefs and understanding,” Principal Vince Lopez emphasized. “[Nevertheless,] allowing students to express themselves differently [may be] offensive to me but not to you.”

  Considering Lopez’s perspective on the graduation ceremony, effective solutions exist to resolve such a school-wide controversy. Similar to our ceremonial rehearsal, implementing a cap check-in day could also be beneficial. This would require establishing a committee dedicated to checking the caps and determining their appropriateness. Doing so would take a load off Principal Lopez and ensure fairness in future seniors’ graduation ceremonies. Establishing this change could create an inclusive and passionate environment. 

   Furthermore, empowering students to express themselves authentically cultivates a positive and supportive environment conducive to creativity and self-confidence. It would offer hope for a future of flexibility and freedom during ceremonial protocols. Implementing a new solution would ensure that those who do not wish to decorate their cap with bad intentions are not punished and guarantee that no one is excluded or pressured.

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About the Contributor
Gabrielle Rodriguez
Gabrielle Rodriguez, Staff Writer
Gabrielle Rodriguez is a Staff Writer for the school newspaper, currently in her first year with the team. Outside of her journalistic duties, Gabrielle is passionate about volunteering for the youth and projects in relation to the arts. Her decision to join the newspaper stemmed from her love for English and the opportunity to be in a class focused on writing.
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