Graduation Changes Stir Class of 2013 Debate

Graduation Changes Stir Class of 2013 Debate

For the past four years, North Point graduations have largely followed the same pattern: several hundred seniors arrive to the gymnasium, girls decked out in white robes, white dresses and white shoes, boys in red robes with shirt and tie underneath. Female graduates sit on one side of the gym and males sit on the other, forming two solid columns of red and white. But this year, that young tradition is about to change. Beginning with the Class of 2013, all of North Point’s graduates will wear red robes and seating will be arranged alphabetically by home room, not by gender. These changes may seem innocuous, but many seniors are up in arms over the changes. At the same time, others welcome the chance for their class to do something unique.

“I like [the old rules] better because it’s more traditional,” said Jordan Burd (’13). “I wish we were wearing white.” For students who attended the graduations of older siblings, there is something important about carrying on the same tradition. Other students enjoy the aesthetics of the white and red mix. “I understand what they’re trying to do – to break down barriers in gender,” said Mike Johnson (’13). “But I kind of like the tradition. I feel [graduation] looks better when we’re separated.”

The drivers of the changes are the officers for the Class of 2013, along with their advisor, Vice Principal Ms. Akins. Several factors drove the group to push for changes to graduation. First, they felt that the gender distinction created by the difference in gown color was unnecessary. “Within our graduating class, we have young men and women entering the military as well as career fields ranging from Culinary Arts to Carpentry to Computer Science…attending colleges near and far, big and small, and all of this occurs without differentiation as to the students’ individual genders,” noted Akins. Second, the officers envisioned that 550 seniors, the largest graduating class North Point has ever had, all decked out in the same color would have a heightened visual impact. “This will certainly be a very powerful sight to be seen,” said Akins. Lastly, the old rules that required white gowns, which were relatively transparent, also required female students to purchase white dresses and shoes to match. “By eliminating the white gown for young ladies, we were able to eliminate one more expense incurred by the families of female graduates,” said Akins. Now female seniors can wear a dress in whatever color they want – including white.

Naturally, as with any change, there will be supporters and detractors. “I think that the seating arrangements are going to be better,” said Kenneth Grazier (’13). “We’ll look like we’re more diverse and prepared for college.” True enough, the typical college graduation features single color gowns and doesn’t separate graduates by gender.

To those who remain unhappy with the changes, there is one thing they should keep in mind: graduation is a moment for celebrating the end of one chapter of life and the experiences it brought. Many memories will remain from the night of June 4th, but as Akins put it, the color of the graduation gown is not one of them.