The Ability To Show Diversity is Necessary at Graduation [OPINION]


Grandview High School, home to a diverse student body and a place for brand new experiences. Students are lucky to have opportunities to celebrate their differences at the annual cultural night, club meetings, affinity forums, and through student publications. 

But, while the school encourages its students to show individuality and be themselves, they are restricted from doing so when it matters most. 

Grandview does not allow students to showcase the diversity that they take so much pride in at graduation, unless they are required to by state law, which is what allows only Native American students to wear tribal regalia at graduation. Students should have the right to display their culture and what got them to the point they are at now on the most important day of their high school career.

“[Graduation] is about celebrating our accomplishments within those academic years and for some, that’s achieving goals that our family didn’t have the opportunity to do,” Senior Alexandra Acosta said. “Bringing out flags just brings a sense of pride. Personally, I wanted to because I’m one of the first Peruvian Americans in my family to graduate.”

The commencement ceremony is the one ceremony that is designed to be uniform, at least that’s what administrators believe. Students, however, have other thoughts on the matter.

“It’s a matter that’s really not about individuality, the actual ceremony itself is about the uniformity,” Principal Dr. Lisa Roberts said. “That’s why you all wear the same color gown, you wear the tassel. We give very few cords because of that.” 

If uniformity is the priority, why does Grandview allow cords at all? Because graduation is a time for students to take pride in their accomplishments and the person they are going to be. No student is the same, and the time to show that most is at graduation. 

 “You’re not graduating to all be the same, you’re graduating to spread out and be the person that you were meant to be in the world,” Senior Kenisha Bartlett said.

Graduating students feel that they should represent and honor their roots that motivated them to achieve their goals. Several students within The Class of 2023 have expressed outrage due to these blind decisions based on an old tradition of 25 years.

“The inability to express cultural wear at graduation is unfair and bigoted. There is nothing distracting or irritating about being able to wear your attire with pride during such an important event,” Senior Milani Cook said. “I find it to be rather offensive to not allow people to show their culture and background.”

At the commencement ceremony for The Class of 2022, administration took issue with students who brought out flags representing their native country when accepting their diploma. 

“You couldn’t see their gown and all you could see was their flag and all of a sudden it was no longer about their time at Grandview High School, it was their time in their native country,” Roberts said. 

To be told that representing your heritage takes away from your time at Grandview is not something students believe is right. 

“I don’t think [restricting individuality at graduation] is something schools should proudly stand for,” Senior Amanda Danner said. “I’d be embarrassed.” 

Not only is this rule unfair, it is hypocritical. 

“For a school that claims to care about its students so much, not letting us do such a thing to express ourselves at graduation is kind of hypocritical of them,” Senior Elijah Dunning said. “They want to promote themselves of all these good things but at the end of the day, they want to silence us and our freedom of speech by not letting us wear what is representing our cultures.”

According to Dr. Roberts, this is our school and our four years. If this is so, we should be allowed to showcase what contributed to our success as graduating seniors. 

“Wearing your home flags at graduation is not a way of discrediting Grandview, it’s a way of showing people that despite our differences, we all made it through high school,” Senior Sara Abassi said. “What’s the point of even having a ceremony if we aren’t allowed to acknowledge all of the contributions to our success? Grandview cares more about its reputation than it does students rights to express culture, and that needs to change.”