A blue and white graduation

BVH administration decides white graduation robe requirements for 2023


Jechaenna Velazco

On April 19 at Bonita Vista High, International Baccalaureate coordinator Jared Phelps is talking to senior Cyan Schiele during lunch. Seniors who have a 4.2 GPA are eligible for a white gown.

Destiny Avila Ramirez, News Editor

White graduation robes for seniors graduating in 2022 became a topic of discussion after former Bonita Vista High (BVH) principal Roman Del Rosario expanded the wearing of white robes at graduation. In the 2022-2023 school year BVH Principal Lee Romero joined the BVH community and had to decide the white robe requirements for the 2023 graduating class as well as future graduating classes. 

IB program coordinator Jared Phelps noted that there would be a need to revisit the white robes discussion because of a new principal. He further added that it was not expected for Del Rosario to leave BVH when the white robe requirements were changed, leaving questions surrounding robe requirements.

“When [Romero] got to the school, I explained to him that last year, there was some change in data with the white robes. And that there was a need for us to talk about that this year and figure out what we’re going to be doing with it,” Phelps said. 

Prior to the 2022 graduating class, white robes were only reserved for IB diploma candidates. However with last year’s changes, the requirements were extended to a larger group of students. Furthermore, Phelps explained that as a new principal coming in, Romero felt the best thing to do would be to leave the requirements as they were chosen last year by Del Rosario.

“In short [white gown requirements this year] are IB Diploma candidates, [seniors with a] 4.2, or higher weighted overall GPA, one of the top two students in the mild moderate program and one of the top two students in the moderate to severe special education program,” Phelps said.

2023 Task Force Advisor Christina Ada mentioned the little concern received from 2023 seniors on graduation attire. She concluded that meetings held in the 2021-2022 school year had sufficiently answered student concerns. Additionally, Ada explains why she believed robe requirements were changed last year.

White robe requirements were changed last year to be more inclusive and to acknowledge all students with high academic achievement.” Ada said.

As the 2023 Task Force Advisor, Ada interacts often with BVH seniors who are most affected by the white gown matter. With the current white gown requirements set to continue, Ada expresses her continued support towards the change for seniors since the beginning. 

White robe requirements were changed last year to be more inclusive and to acknowledge all students with high academic achievement.

— 2023 Task Force Advisor Christina Ada

“I voted in favor of the change, there are many students with significantly higher GPAs than those in the IB Program that have excelled academically by taking a combination of AP and IB courses. I believe they should be recognized for those achievements,” Ada said.

Notably, Phelps explains that there isn’t a set process for notifying students on white robes and getting white robes available. He adds that this year a list was made of seniors currently eligible to graduate in white. Phelps emailed the list to Romero but has not notified seniors of the list yet.

“I didn’t want to tell students before the right time. What I had anticipated was that Romero would either make an announcement, he’d send an email or notification to classes. We’re in something of new territory here. We just don’t have a protocol currently for who notifies the students or when that happens,” Phelps said.

Romero comments that there hasn’t been any challenges with seniors opposed to the current requirements. He mentions that many IB students have voiced that there should not be a distinction amongst seniors at graduation. IB seniors have explained that there should only be one color but those in the IB diploma will continue to receive their IB hood.

“I’ve heard from almost every IB candidate that there should be one color, but that’s my informal discussion, because I like to talk to kids and have their opinion on it. Most of them would think it’d be okay to go back to one. I’m not willing to make that adjustment this year, or next year [but possibly in the future],” Romero said. 

Romero mentions the different opinions and outcomes that can come from deciding gown colors and requirements. He explains that having a different colored gown does not negatively define who seniors are as students. Furthermore, there is an active process underhead for the future of senior graduation gown colors and requirements.

“As a principal, I chose not to change the gown distinctions. I’m probably not going to change it next year. But I think in the future it deserves some energy and for the entire Bonita community to talk about [to decide if] that is something we want to continue,” Romero said.