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Moniteau’s vote on cap, gown color will change tradition

Warriors’ Choice
Students share a laugh before turning their tassels during the 2022 graduation ceremony at Moniteau High School. Butler Eagle File Photo

The issue seemed black and white: what color would the student body at Moniteau School District choose for graduation caps and gowns.

However, at the Monday, March 13, school board meeting, the subject, broached for confirmation by a parent, revealed a strong difference of opinion.

Dustin Thompson, co-principal of student affairs, confirmed that students will be voting to decide if the entire Class of 2023 will be wearing black or white graduation gowns.

At Moniteau, male students always have been clad in black caps and gowns at commencement, while females traditionally have worn white.

Thompson said that administrators made the decision to let students vote after speaking with a committee of student leaders at the high school. Following discourse with the committee about overall inclusion among students, students involved began to question the tradition, he said.

“They asked ‘what’s the significance of this, beyond it being what we’ve always done?’” Thompson said.

An email for the vote has been sent to students, he said.

“I completely disagree with what (Thompson’s) doing,” said school board member Michael Baptiste, expressing frustration that the decision lies in the hands of administration rather than with the board.

“I’m tired of our society bowing down to one or two people,” he said. “If they want to do whatever they want to do, that’s fine. Everybody else should not have to change because of a couple people.”

Terri Ariss, a parent with multiple children in the district, disagreed, saying she was standing behind Thompson’s decision.

“I agree with one color. A lot of you guys might not like it, and that’s OK. This way, no one is upset,” Ariss said. “You guys are worried about whether you got to make the vote? How about you let them make a vote, and let the students make a vote … We’re one school, one together. We’re unified. We belong together.

“This is stupid to argue over a cap and gown, over colors. We have more things to worry about,” Ariss added, earning agreement from a few other parents, “We have a lot more to worry about. We need to worry about the bullying. That’s why my daughter cyberschools … And you guys are worried about caps and gowns?”

Across district lines

In comparison, the Karns City Area School District did away with its color traditions with the graduating Class of 2022 because of the class demographics. Until then, male students wore purple and the females wore white.

District superintendent Eric Ritzert said the reason behind the decision last year was a very uneven amount of boys and girls in the graduating class, a gap that was too wide to divide them in half by gender.

“Administration decided to have all of the students in one color and have half on one side and half on another, calling them alphabetically,” Ritzert said, citing the presentation aspect of the ceremony.

To Ritzert’s knowledge, they haven’t received any comments on the change from the public, positive or negative.

The Karns City Area Jr./Sr. High School graduating class at commencement proceedings in June 2022. Students wore the same color cap and gowns. The district did away with its color traditions. Before then, male students wore purple and the female students wore white. Submitted photo
When Karns City conducted graduation ceremonies June 4, 2019, the male students wore purple and female students wore white. Butler Eagle file photo

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