Class of ‘17 Gets a New Wardrobe

New Graduation Gowns

Bye bye, gender-distinct graduation gowns. Bring on the purple! The senior class of 2017 will be graduating–on May 30th–in a ceremony very different from its predecessors. The graduation ceremony will no longer be segregated by sex, as they were in several ways in the past. Boys used to wear purple gowns, the girls, white. Additionally, students were called to stage in an out-of-order sequence: a line of boys, then a line of girls, and so on.

The new ceremony is simpler. All students will be wearing purple gowns, adorned with a white stole with the school’s crest. And the new name order is just by surname, A-Z, without the oddly-timed splits.

Although, all things considered, the ceremony isn’t quite new: this is Howard County’s third year using the mixed-sex, same-robes system at graduations. It is, however, the first year it has been done in Long Reach.

Added Mrs. Flood, “We are the only [Howard County] school as of now with the stoles and school crest on them,” so the new look is both fashionable and unique.

Lauryn Reynolds, a senior who has not ‘picked a side,’ says, “I don’t have very strong feelings about it… I’m pretty neutral.” She adds, “It hasn’t influenced how I feel [about graduation].”

But Senior Anita Kuang, who is against the changes, disagrees. She says, “I prefer white robes, so that’s one thing… They’re more easily matched [with outfits and accessories].”

Tayyiaba Farooq, another senior, agrees with Kuang, saying, “I liked white better, and I don’t like the crest or stoles… If I had to ‘pick a side,’ I’d say against.”

“I also feel like it [will be] more messy looking if it is both guys and girls in one line… It seems more orderly to have a girl/guy rotation,” says Kuang. “And some people may feel uncomfortable, like if you’re stuck in between a bunch of guys and you don’t know them,” she adds. The boys, too, might feel uncomfortable surrounded by unknown girls.

Senior Alejandra Tovar, who is in favor of the changes, explains: “I think it’s good. Gendering clothes with color is unnecessary, and having one color can be easier for trans and gender nonconforming kids.”

The change was one that was “all done by the Board of Education… we [the school] were just told that we were to do it this way,” explained Mrs. Flood.

The reasons behind the change were unexplained, but there are several possibilities. The seemingly arbitrary separation of boys and girls at the graduation ceremony has been accused of being sexist before. The mixed-gender, purely alphabetic announcement order is more straightforward and easily understood. And individual students may, for personal reasons such as those suggested by Tovar, be uncomfortable being sorted into visible and distinct “male” and “female” categories.

Long Reach lacked power in the decision, so the reaction has been mixed. The impacted seniors seem to be split on the change, with 45% for the new robes and 55% against.

Overall, the seniors do not seem to have arrived yet at a consensus. But whatever one thinks, Long Reach will see the new choices in action at Merriweather Post Pavillion on May 30th.