Cam High to Change more than 50 Years of Tradition With Graduation Gowns


Times have changed; graduation at Cam High used to be multicolored. Not anymore. Photo By: Cecilia Bach-Nguyen

Students at Cam High will no longer be provided with two different graduation gown colors and will have to choose just one for all graduates in a vote to be held this month.

Oxnard Union High School District (OUHSD) plans to establish a policy later this month that limits high schools to one graduation gown color that represents all genders. In Cam High’s case, instead of the traditional navy blue for males and Columbia blue for females, all students must sport the same color.

“This is a very big national initiative,” said Dr. Penelope DeLeon, OUHSD Superintendent. “It is not about gender equality as much as it is about being respectful to everybody’s choice to select a gender or not select a gender, and we have students who choose not to. In my view, [if] you all wear the same color it shows that you are unified as a student body.”

Ms. Lori Pristera, ASB Director, announced the change on Wednesday, Oct. 11 during senior activities, while freshmen, sophomores, and juniors were taking the PSAT. It was predetermined at that time that the entire senior class would be wearing navy blue gowns at the graduation next spring. This sudden policy reform sparked controversy among seniors, leading them to question why they weren’t able to choose the color they wanted to wear, and why there had to be only one color.

“I understand that gender neutrality is a growing topic,” said Drew Reyes, Senior Class Parliamentarian. “I just think we could have [found] a solution that allowed us to keep both colors, since they’re both shades of blue.”

“The whole school shouldn’t have to wear one color just to accommodate some people,” said Isaac DeLara, senior, when asked about his opinion on the transition from two gown colors to one.

Most colleges, universities, and high schools across the nation provide only one color for graduation robes.

“I do not understand students who are asking why we are letting a small percentage of the school’s population dictate what the entire student body does,” said Pristera. “That’s like saying you have three percent of your graduating class who are deaf so we don’t want a sign language interpreter there because that’s not what 97 percent of the students need.”

“My understanding was that we had to have a decision made now,” said Pristera, who received notice about a week before last year’s graduation that the gown colors would be changed. “I briefly discussed it with [last year’s] senior class cabinet, and the conversation was if you had a choice which one would you prefer and the consensus was the navy blue.”

“It was inconsequential, a very short conversation,” said Joyce Seok, Co-President of last year’s senior class cabinet and current freshman at Harvard University. “We had no idea that that was supposed to be directly translated to the senior class cabinet of 2017/2018 [or] that we were voting that next year’s graduation [robes] should be one color.”

The Stinger’s reporting showed that consensus among seniors is frustration as to why they were unable to vote between the two existing gown colors in order to choose what they would be wearing at graduation. “Since it’s our expense and our memory of graduation, we should have a choice of the available colors,” said Gabriel Villegas, senior.

Pacifica High School in Oxnard has already implemented the change, shifting from forest green for females and black for males to solely forest green robes. “We all decided to go with green, since it’s the school’s dominant color,” said Julio Martinez, ASB President at Pacifica High School. There was no vote among the senior class, however Martinez said that most seniors felt that the change makes the class feel more united.

Due to recent feedback from students, administration decided to allow the entire student body to vote on their graduation gown color.

“In the end they will have a choice between two colors, a Columbia blue and a navy blue, [both] with a grey stole,” said Pristera. “This change affects every single student not just the senior class. So the whole school will be voting because once they vote that’s the color, and we will roll that out next week. They wanted a choice, they now have a choice.”

Voice your opinion on which gown color you want to wear at graduation by voting in the poll on our home page.

Stinger Staff members: Cecilia Bach-Nguyen, Rachael Ryan, Esteban Reyes, Emma Brock, Kaylie Chen, Jessica Lang and guest writer Christopher Keating contributed to this story.