Class Moves to Change Robe Color


The Class of 2016 SGA Officers during graduation. In the past, boys have worn blue and girl have worn white. This year, everyone will be wearing blue.

By Thomas Atkinson and News Editor

As the new school year settles in, monumental changes have arisen, for our school, our county and even society as a whole. But how do students feel about these changes?
The Class of 2017 voted on to change the graduation robe colors. Instead of boys wearing blue and girls wearing white, everyone will now be wearing blue.
According to Principal Joan Benz, a proposal was set forth by members of the senior class who were passionate about this issue, and then given to Class of 2017 for a vote.
Some feel that graduation has always been hyper focused on seperating genders, and thus this change of tradition will lead to a more inclusive community at CHS, and make the graduation ceremony a safer space for everybody.
“Gender identity is a big issue,” senior Noah Bach said. “When you struggle with gender identity and are put into a box your whole life, you would kill for one hour where you don’t have to feel that way.”
However many members of the student body believe that one graduation robe color for all seniors is disrupting CHS tradition. In an informal poll of 360 students conducted by the Observer, an overwhelming 81 percent do not like the change, while just 19 percent of students believe the robes should be one color.
“We should take every opportunity to allow students to differentiate from one another and emphasize what makes them unique, rather than promote unity by taking those opportunities away,” Senior Joshua* said.
According to Joshua, the robes also represent a long standing tradition at CHS, and some graduates will lose the sense of nostalgia if their graduation process is different than their friends and siblings.
In addition to the tradition of multi colored graduation robes, a major concern for seniors is how this change will disrupt their photos and outfits on graduation day.
Many senior girls have already taken their senior portraits in white gowns, which now will not match what they wear on the actual day.
“I paid $60 for these portraits and I think these portraits should match what I wear on May 30,” senior Izzy Rayner said.
Also many girls have already bought their dresses for the special day.
“I’ve had my graduation dress picked out for a while
because that day is really important to me,” senior Jessica said* “Everyone that I have talked to is bummed about the change because we won’t be able to participate in the same tradition as our siblings and older friends.”
With such an overwhelming response against the robe change in the poll, many are left wondering about the integrity of the vote conducted by administration.
However, according to senior administrator Doreen Brandes, additional procedures were taken to ensure voter fraud was impossible.
“It was suspect if people voted very close in time, so the tech people negated the first 40 votes in order to ensure you couldn’t vote twice.” Brandes said.
According to Brandes, it was brought to her attention that many people missed out on the opportunity to vote, but due to the extensive promotion of this poll on the Daily Dose, voting was solely the student’s choice and responsibility.
“We want everybody to be a part since it’s the senior class’s decision, and that’s why there was vote,” Brandes said.
This dispute over the robe colors has left the senior class divided, with arguments breaking out in the Class of 2017 Facebook group.
“Churchill is a diverse school, but we do not have a single student who does not identify as a gender, so to make an unpopular rule change seems trivial and unnecessary,” SGA President Ben Birnbach said.
Regardless of whether people agree with the color change or not, this pressing change is representative of the bigger change occurring in our county.
Many schools have set precedent before CHS, promoting gender-neutral policies, whether it be at homecoming or graduation. BCC has recently eliminated the notion of a homecoming king or queen, and replaced it with a gender-neutral “homecoming court.”
In fact, MCPS recommends that “schools should consider gender neutral dress codes for class or yearbook photos, honor society ceremonies, graduation ceremonies, or dances.”
“Primarily in Montgomery County, there are very few schools now where people wear more than one color” Principal Joan Benz said. “People feel now as time has evolved that there’s less identification process if everybody wears the same color.”
*Name has been changed to maintain anonymity