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  • Dereon Coleman

The Reality of Graduation Policies

Photo of a 2023 CHS graduate

Like other high schools in Virginia, Churchland has a policy that at graduation you can’t decorate your cap or dance. This policy is not only in Virgina but other places as well like Florida, New Orleans, etc. 

The policy at Churchland is not as strict as some other high schools; these other schools consequences equal to being escorted out with parents, having to wait to get your diploma or in some extreme conditions, being detained. 

Most students look forward to putting cool quotes, song lyrics, artwork, things that reflect their personality or future aspirations but aren’t allowed to. 

Even though cap decorating is against the rules some students still do it. Most of the time when a person decorates their cap it’s very extravagant with feathers, paint, glitter, big letters, charms, flowers, gems, etc. Now students just use pearls and glitter to get away with it. 

Another thing that's forbidden in the policy is students can’t decorate their stoles. Just like people get around decorating their caps, students still decorate their stoles. Stoles usually have pictures of the student, class year, school name and other things the students want to add. 

This year the school has a new graduation coach, Danny Hill Jr. Hill deals with seniors and he makes sure they have enough credits to graduate, have good grades, build GPA’s, talk about future plans and help with the graduation ceremony. Hill is very hands-on with his job as his main role is working with graduating seniors, he has connections with the underclassmen and talks a little bit about how big being able to graduate is.

In response to the policy at Churchland, Hill feels that students should be able to dance for a couple seconds on stage and decorate their caps as a way of expressing their accomplishments. Hill agrees with other students that graduating high school is a big deal for not only the student but their parents as well. 

“Even as kids, this generation has faced so much as they go through their high school years,” Hill said. 

He would love for students to decorate their caps in an appropriate manner and express themselves because that's how some students can tell their story.

“Life is so unpredictable but to make it to that stage it’s just really a major step in their next chapter,” Hill added. 

When Hill was in high school and college he saw first-hand students putting different bible verses or lyrics from a popular rap song on their cap to give insight on their experiences. 

Hill said, “I feel like it just adds to the celebration because when you look back at it and be like yo, I really did it.”

As for the other rules following graduation, Hill explains that at graduation the school still wants everything to be civilized and not out of order. 

“It’s still a ceremony so there are certain things they don’t like,” Hill stated. 

Hill was asked if he thought students should be able to dance while walking across stage. “As long as it’s not excessive cause you know some people when you give them a inch they take a mile, like now they want to dougie across the whole stage and hit a backflip,” he responded. 

Hill is 50/50 on the no-dancing policy as it’s a way for students to celebrate but the student has to know when to stop and behave since it's still a ceremony. Hill added that it’s their time to shine and give personality but students must learn how to balance these things.

Dymond Mills, a junior at Churchland High School, is preparing for her senior year. Mills doesn’t agree mainly with the decorating the caps and stoles, voicing her opinion that it doesn’t make sense why students can’t express their happiness. 

“I don’t like how they be tripping about little stuff cause it’s never that serious,” Mills responds. 

Mills said she made a Pinterest board her freshman year of different graduation caps and stoles and is disappointed she can’t try any of those ideas. For the most part she agrees with the no dancing policy mainly because some students like to be extra and funny when the time isn’t right. 

“The ceremony is already long as is and dummies wanna try to be funny, like I don’t have time to be standing and waiting around. I'm ready to go party after,” Mills said. 

At the June 2023 graduation, the ceremony was broadcasted and there were students who danced across and did a backflip. These students were told to hurry up and get their diploma while still getting hugs and handshakes from the admin. 

The old principal Shawn Millaci didn’t give the students attitude and let them perform. Even though these rules are put in place Churchland doesn’t really punish students unlike other high schools. The administration team isn’t really strict as people think but the student just needs to have control over themselves and let other people get their shine also.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of CHS library

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