Starting with freshman year, the girls of Newtown High School (NHS) await the time when they’ll be able to decorate their graduation caps. They enviously watch the senior girls add Facebook pictures of themselves in their graduation gowns with decorated caps that show off their personality and highlight the college they’ll be attending. It’s not uncommon for girls to save pictures of favorite caps they see online and use them for inspiration when the time finally comes to decorate their own.
At NHS, caps and gowns are given out at the first graduation rehearsal two days before the actual ceremony. The parking lot of Michael’s Craft Store is immediately flooded with senior girls who have sparkles and glitter on their minds. Most girls will go directly to the scrapbooking section and get sparkly textured paper in their future college’s school colors. Some will decorate their caps half NHS/half college to represent both schools. Other popular decorative items include colored ribbon to outline the cap, colored gems to spell out school names, and adhesive letters and numbers for graduation years and names.
After all the supplies have been purchased and rough sketches have been made, cap decorating turns into an opportunity for a social gathering. Large groups of friends get together to hang out and decorate their caps. Each girl brings scissors, hot glue guns, and extra supplies to share with her friends. The decorating process is taken very seriously, though. Although extra paper and such are usually purchased, careful measurements of the caps are made and meticulously drawn straight lines are essential.
Each girl usually has an assigned task. My job is to cut the paper to the exact measurements of the cap for each of my friends. When everything is finally ready and sketches are final, it’s important to do a layout of the cap before everything is glued down. With approval from everyone at the party, the hot glue guns are turned on, and we hold our breath as each item is permanently affixed. After hours of hard work, the girls show off their completed creations on Instagram and swoon over their friends’ pictures as well.
When graduation day finally arrives, the sea of blue and white gowns is spiced up with colorful caps that illustrate the personality of each girl wearing them. After four long, hard years all leading up to this point, it’s truly sentimental to see how one person’s character can be summed up on a small 10″ by 10″ square. Colleges are proudly displayed, and the transition between high school and college finally begins. The class of 2013 has become the class of 2017. Pictures are put up on Facebook, and the cycle starts again as the rising senior girls anxiously await their turn.