The Shen Pen

The Student News Site of Shenendehowa High School

The Shen Pen

The Shen Pen

OPINION: Students should be able to throw caps during commencement

OPINION: Students should be able to throw caps during commencement

High school graduation is a right of passage for any teenager transitioning into adulthood. The rush of excitement and nerves as you cross the stage to begin your future is a bittersweet memory for most. 

The longstanding tradition of throwing your graduation cap in the air at the end of the ceremony has become a controversial topic in recent years, with many schools including Shen discouraging it.

I believe that there is no better way to salute this milestone than by tossing your cap in celebration, and there is no reason for it to be prohibited at Shen. While I understand that the act of 700 students throwing objects in the air can be chaotic, this is a tradition that we can’t throw out. It is a right of passage for graduates and holds deep significance.

The custom originated at the United States Naval Academy in 1912. When graduates moved up from a midshipman to a full fledged officer, they donned a new cap to represent their status.

During their moving up ceremony, the naval officers shed their midshipmen hats and threw them in the air to embrace their change in rank. 

As the naval students tossed their old hats and put on their new ones, they welcomed all of the new responsibilities and challenges that are in tandem with becoming officers.

This performance found its way in hundreds of institutions throughout the country, and became the tradition we see at almost every graduation ceremony due to its symbolic nature.

Like the naval students, when graduates toss their cap at graduation, it represents their acceptance of the duties and opportunities that lay beyond the academic realm.

To deny this right is not only scoffing at tradition, but ripping this moment of embrace from graduates’ lives and refusing them the right to revel in the success that comes from completing a degree.

With big schools like Shen, I can see why administrators would not want seniors to participate in this act. Class sizes are large, and 730 caps getting thrown up in the air can cause disorder.

Since the event is at SPAC, there is a high chance that the caps will get lost, scattered and abandoned all over the venu, or end up hitting someone on their way back down.

While these concerns are valid, I don’t believe that the location of the ceremony is a good enough excuse to not participate in tradition. 

Shen is not the only school to use SPAC as their graduation venu. Just this year, Skidmore college graduates were seen there, tossing their caps in the air with joy at the end of the commencement. 

Skidmore college is proof that this tradition can be done successfully by schools with large class sizes, so Shen has no real reason to tell their seniors they can’t.

Shen graduation is Wednesday June 26th, and the administration is yet to speak on this issue.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Shen Pen

Your donation will support the student journalists of Shenendehowa High School. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Shen Pen

Comments (0)

All The Shen Pen Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *