By Ella Alpert, Staff Writer
// The sunny spring day erupts into accolades as a wave of uniformly blue caps fly into the air and return to the hands of elated high school graduates.
This ceremonial cliché once rang true for students graduating from Acalanes. However, senior class officers and Leadership worked tirelessly to reinstall unique cap decorations to the school’s customarily strict policy.
Student officers began advocating for the policy shift following growing support for cap ornaments and artwork at the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year.
“Actually, since freshman year, when I realized that other schools had this and that we didn’t, it was definitely something I knew, being a four-year class officer, that I wanted to do as a senior class officer,” Senior Class President Riley Nicosia said. “I wanted to try my hardest because I knew that a lot of senior class officers in the past had not pushed for it.”
However, the change did not happen overnight. According to Senior Class Vice President Sophia Cooper, officers started their communication with administration at the beginning of September and worked to satisfy both parties’ requirements for around three months.
Within the time the policy remained under consideration, administration did not hold back any concerns they felt leadership should acknowledge.
“I think that my biggest concern is someone showing up with a cap that poorly represents the school, or is offensive to a person or group of people, and having that be on display during a really formal ceremony event that is really designed to honor the work of the collective,” Acalanes Principal Travis Bell said.
However, officers remained hopeful that compromise would be achieved with careful planning.
“Admin was worried about having heavy things on the caps that would hurt people when they were thrown in the air, or having inappropriate messages, and also separating people regarding what they are doing in the future,” Cooper said. “If there are certain kids who have, let’s say, NYU on their cap and other people didn’t get into that school, administration is worried about singling people out, but we are trying to find ways to limit that.”
After months of deliberation, officers and administration ultimately agreed on a trial plan for this year’s decoration process.
“Seniors are going to get their caps checked by admin about a week before graduation, and then admin is going to hold onto that so students can’t bring in inappropriate things,” Cooper said. ”If you have inappropriate things we will take your cap away from you and give you a new blank one that you have to wear during the ceremony.”
While initially hesitant to grant permission for the newly synthesized policy, Bell emphasizes that student behavior is responsible for the activity’s continuation.
“We decided that we have a lot of trust and faith in the students of Acalanes that part of their education is not just learning the academic components of the curriculum, but really learning how to be a responsible and productive informed citizen that values themselves and others, which is part of our mission statement,” Bell said.
Although there is always a risk that students meet the privilege with backlash, officers reflect on the benefits a project like this will have for seniors.
“It will let artistic people show their talents, and even non-artistic people can show the cool talents they have through where they’re going, or what their life looks like in the future,” Nicosia said. “I think, in the way that we are promoting it that it’s going to reach all aspects of people, not just the people going to four-year schools or two-year schools, but really reaching out to everybody.”