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Seniors will graduate in navy this spring

Student council changes a long-standing tradition in the name of gender inclusion

Audrey+Whiteside+%2719+and+Sloane+Teske+%2719+show+off+the+girls%27+traditional+gold+attire+and+the+navy+cap+and+gown+for+this+spring.
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Seniors will graduate in navy this spring

Audrey Whiteside '19 and Sloane Teske '19 show off the girls' traditional gold attire and the navy cap and gown for this spring.

Audrey Whiteside '19 and Sloane Teske '19 show off the girls' traditional gold attire and the navy cap and gown for this spring.

Halsey Smith

Audrey Whiteside '19 and Sloane Teske '19 show off the girls' traditional gold attire and the navy cap and gown for this spring.

Halsey Smith

Halsey Smith

Audrey Whiteside '19 and Sloane Teske '19 show off the girls' traditional gold attire and the navy cap and gown for this spring.

When students at East Grand Rapids High School think of graduation, they likely picture ceremonies from the past: classmates lining up on Memorial field in May as the boys walk across the stage in navy, and the girls in gold. This year, however, the student council decided to change this tradition as a step forward in gender inclusion. The entire graduating class of 2019 will wear navy gowns this spring, eliminating the troublesome choice that some students were forced to make.  

In November, the senior student council met to discuss the issue of inclusion at graduation, including various problems that the traditional gender-based color for caps and gowns had caused in the past.

“Some of the factors we considered were how people might react in a negative light to the change in tradition,” Executive Vice President Chris Bruinsma ‘19 said. “We also considered how it’s possible to ensure inclusion in the future, and how we want to represent our school as a whole.”

In the end, the students decided to end the time-honored tradition.

“We wanted to do something that positively reflected the ideas of inclusivity that our class embodies,” Executive Student Council President Will Marsh ‘19 said. “We think this little change will have a much more positive impact than negative. Why not bring us all together for the last time both physically and symbolically.”

On December 6, the Student Council Executive Board sent out an email to EGRHS senior parents, describing the change.

“After considerable thought, discussion, and input from our peers and the administration, we decided that all students will wear the same color of caps and gowns, navy with a gold tassel and stole,” the letter wrote. “Our class strongly believes every graduate should feel equal with their fellow classmates. Inclusivity has been an important principle of this class since we began senior year, and we are confident this new tradition will positively impact all future classes.”

Graduation is a ceremony based heavily on tradition and having graduates all wear navy combats what East has done in the past. As most students know, East is a place rich with tradition, so the ultimate decision definitely wasn’t something the student council took lightly.

“Something the student council really took into consideration was the value of our traditions at East,” Student Council Representative Olivia Brown ‘19 said. “We believe that having the same color of gowns for graduation will create a new tradition of inclusivity that the class of 2019 and the future classes can be proud of.”

Although the ceremony will look a little different this year, the hope is that the change will make graduation an enjoyable, stress-free event for everyone.

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Seniors will graduate in navy this spring