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GRAD CAP COMPLAINTS

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Student begins petition to urge administration to allow graduates to decorate their caps for commencement ceremony  

Zelbert Armer, 12

Senior Zelbert Armer wants to free the grad cap.

Armer was spotted last week going around to classrooms asking students to sign a petition that would allow graduating seniors to decorate their caps for the annual graduation ceremony held at War Memorial Stadium on June 10, 2022. Armer has received more than 500 signatures (as of March 28, 2022) since he initially began this petition on Wed. 16, 2022.

The petitions states, “We the undersigned, petition PRHS administration to allow the student body to decorate their graduation caps for the annual commencement ceremony; and we further support the enforcement (with consequences) of appropriate images and messages by school officials.”

Students sign the petition. Friday, March 18.

Armer believes it’s important for Bearcats to have the opportunity to celebrate their individualities, while also being in unison as students graduating Paso Robles High School. He and his 260 supporters are tackling a policy that has been in place for decades for the grad gear that costs students $48 to wear.

“We pay so much for the cap and gown that we wear once. I think we should be able to show diversity but still have unity with our gowns,” Armer said. “We should be able to express our identity through our caps while celebrating our graduation. Of course, it should be school appropriate and respectful.”

For decades, students at PRHS have only been allowed to wear approved regalia (medals, cords, stoles, pins, etc.) with their unaltered cap and gown during the PRHS graduation ceremony, whereas, other highschools such as Templeton High School (THS) and Atascadero High School (AHS) allow their high school students to decorate their caps.

“I have contacted both the principals of THS and AHS asking them why they allow their students to decorate their caps, but I have not heard a response from either one so far. I plan to schedule a time to meet with them if I do not hear a response soon,” Armer said. 

He has a goal to gather 1,000 signatures –which is about half the student population, or “as many signatures as possible.”

When Science Department Chair Jon-Paul Ewing graduated from PRHS in 1999, his class was also not allowed to decorate their caps, and Ewing agreed with the policy.

“I agree with the current policy, the graduating class looks better when they are all in the same uniform (non decorated) cap and gown,” Ewing said.

Once Armer has received a desired amount of signatures for his petition, he will bring it to Principal Anothony Overton. A decision will likely be rendered in a few weeks. Update coming soon.  

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