Southern Lehigh seniors were caught off guard with robe color changes


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Beginning with the Class of 2023, Southern Lehigh seniors will graduate in all blue and are permitted to decorate their caps.

Four years after Southern Lehigh High School’s Class of 2019 graduated in all blue and three years after the administration overturned the decision to graduate in one color, the Class of 2023 will, once again, graduate in all-blue robes. This decision is due to the logistical ease of having one color. 

“We started with the initial conversation about decorating caps. We started talking about the decoration process and what happens if someone does something with their cap they shouldn’t do,” high school principal Mr. Joshua Miller said. “Having blue and white caps actually became an issue for us logistically. If we all go blue, it takes care of another issue we’ve seen in the past where students mess up their robes or break a robe at the last minute.”

The decision to wear all blue is coupled with the decision to allow students to decorate their graduation caps. Mr. Miller’s past experiences at Upper Perkiomen influenced the idea of decorating caps, and is an attempt to increase individualism at graduation. 

 “We always let our students decorate caps and I saw students being so creative. They took pride in it and it was really neat when we would get our photos back at the end of the year,” Mr. Miller said. 

While students at Southern Lehigh seem excited about the opportunity to showcase their creativity and individuality at graduation, many members of the senior class are unhappy with the decision to wear all-blue. 

“I don’t mind decorating caps, but I don’t like the color change,” senior Maya Kloss said. “I think that matching everybody takes away from my individuality with the color I wanted to pick.”

Having one color for graduation isn’t uncommon; in a sample of 20 local schools from the local area, ten schools graduated in two colors and the remaining ten graduated in one color. Yet, from the same sample, four of the schools graduating in two colors also decorated caps, while only two of the schools with one color decorated caps. As such, other schools including Nazareth and Saucon Valley have proven that it is possible to wear two colors and decorate caps for graduation. 

Another concern arises from seniors who already took graduation photos in white. 

“Since I planned on wearing a white gown, my senior pictures were done in a white gown,” Kloss said, “and now we’re wearing blue gowns so my senior pictures don’t match what I’m going to be wearing.”

While Christmas City Studios offer a free option for senior yearbook photos, the lowest price session including graduation photos costs $40, but purchasing the photos in any format adds cost. Since some seniors ordered photos taken in white, going back for another session would require an additional investment of money. 

Finally, the change of color brings up a point of concern expressed during the 2019 switch to all blue. Although students chose their color in previous years, many girls still preferred the traditional white gowns and may feel that their voices aren’t being heard. 

While the decision stands, some efforts can help to alleviate these concerns. One such attempt could focus on seniors who already ordered graduation photos. Southern Lehigh still allows students to take Christmas City Studios photos in whichever color they choose, a plus for those who prefer the white gown. To combat the issue of seniors who already had photos taken in white and would like photos in blue, the school could attempt to communicate with Christmas City about obtaining a session for those students affected by the change. 

Even though the switch from two colors to only one color raises concerns within the student body, the other half of this decision will bring about extraordinary amounts of creativity.

“I will probably decorate my cap with a split flag to represent my dual heritage and where my family comes from,” senior Jeremy Sumner said. “If not, I’d probably do something with golf.”