Graduation day is the light at the end of the tunnel. Family and friends cheering students’ names, applauds heard from the stands, pictures taken everywhere, balloons flying, the moment you walk up the stage; high school has officially ended. One cannot help but notice the sea of blue and white graduation gowns. However, at Bonita Vista High School, as with other schools in the Sweetwater Union High School district, there is a deeper meaning to each color.
Although it may seem like just a color, students deserve recognition for their hard work and achievement through wearing the gown at graduation day. At BVHS, International Baccalaureate program students are the only students to graduate in white. By having this, it categorizes IB as the only definition of outstanding.
Each school decides the requirements and colors for their gowns worn on graduation day. However, the district should set the requirements to be the same at all schools so that students have an equal chance to graduate in a distinguished color, no matter what school one attends. Graduating in a different color should not be easier at one school than another. Therefore, the SUHSD should establish the same graduation color requirements for every school within the district.
Advanced Placement students from the BVH class of 2017 have been accepted in prestigious Universities such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology, California Institute of Technology, Cornell University, University of California, Berkeley and Brown University, yet they are still not graduating in white.
At both BVH and Castle Park High School the IB program is offered to students. To graduate in a white gown at BVH, students must complete the IB program. This includes an extended essay, creativity, activity and service and taking a year of the Theory of Knowledge class as well as taking IB classes. However, even at CPH, a school with the IB program, there are other means of being distinguished.
At CPHS students graduate in black or red gowns, representing the school colors. In order for a student to graduate in a black gown, they must be a California Scholarship Federation Life Member. CSF Lifetime Members are students who have earned at least four semesters of membership in grades 10 through 12, with one semester based on senior year grades. At BVH, Lifetime Members wear a yellow stole and sit in the front rows, behind IB candidates, but do not graduate in a white gown.
At other schools in the SUHSD, requirements are very similar or the same as CPHS. Montgomery, Southwest, Otay Ranch and Mar Vista High School all have their students who are CSF Lifetime Members graduate in a white gown. Similarly, Eastlake High School requires students to have a 3.75 overall grade point average and take at least two AP classes to graduate in white. Furthermore, these students cannot have any F’s in citizenship or scholarship and need at least 100 hours of community service in order to graduate in a white gown.
Ultimately, these standards recognize some students for their academic achievements. But, if SUHSD were to offer a more diverse range of opportunities to recognize student accomplishments, more concrete color standards for graduation gowns would be implemented.
Although completing the vigourous IB program is a huge accomplishment that requires a lot of time and effort, other students have still excelled and should be recognized for their accomplishments as well. Students that are not in IB could have higher GPA’s than IB diploma candidates, and can be more or equally involved in school or within the community. The SUHSD should have schools that do not offer IB in two colors: blue and white. The requirements for these schools would be that white gowns be worn by students who have earned a 3.75 overall weighted GPA, have taken a minimum of four AP classes and have a minimum of 100 hours of community service.
Furthermore, BVH and CPHS students should graduate in three different colors: blue, white and gold. Students would follow these same requirements but IB program students would graduate in gold. This would distinguish them from other schools that do not have the program, giving them fair recognition as well. With the same graduation color requirements for each school within SUHSD, each student will rightfully be recognized for their different academic achievements.