Shaler Area considering change to graduation caps and gowns


Hannah Stelitano

Two years ago, the class of 2020 was concerned with the thought of not having a graduation due to the pandemic. Last year, the class of 2021 dealt with social distancing and mask protocols for their graduation. This year, the class of 2022 is dealing with a controversy about the color of the caps and gowns students will wear as they receive their diplomas.

The Shaler Area School Board brought up the issue regarding the traditional colors of caps and gowns that seniors wear to the graduation ceremony.

“I know the caps and gowns dilemma was brought up at a school board meeting last fall. Two school board members asked Dr. Aiken and Dr. O’Black to take a look into the issue. Last fall, I, Dr. Aiken, and Dr. O’Black met to discuss it, but decided it was not an issue because the students had not brought it to our attention.”

The issue has once again been brought to the forefront.

The idea to change the caps and gowns to all one color is to show inclusion for transgender and non-binary students. “Solidarity of our community” is hoped to be achieved with this concept. On the other side of this argument, there are many that want to keep the traditional blue and white gowns.

Traditionally, navy blue gowns have been worn by boys and white gowns have been worn by girls. These colors used to be specifically assigned but for quite some time now, students have been given a form which allows them the option to pick which color they would like to walk in.

If the gowns were to be changed, a design of what the gown would look like has not been confirmed yet, but the goal would be for all students to look the same.

A petition was started on Tuesday, September 28 to support the idea of all graduates wearing the same color gown. On this petition, community members, Shaler alumni, and students have been voicing their opinions such as “it will look more unified” or “Shaler needs to make all students feel welcomed and loved”.

In response to this, Shaler Area students started an opposing petition a few hours later hoping to raise awareness that many do not support the idea of changing the gown colors. On this petition, comments have been made such as “why aren’t we listening to the students’ opinions?” and “students already get to choose which color they want to wear, so it doesn’t discriminate at all.”

This issue will be further discussed at the school board meeting on Wednesday, October 13.