Are students a-ttired of the graduation dress code

Tradition of all white formal attire doesn’t appeal to all students

Sam Blanc, Opinion Editor

At New Trier, nothing is allowed to be strictly run-of-the-mill, and the students’ graduation attire is no different.

Rather than the classic cap and gown, New Trier’s graduation dress code consists of floor or tea length white dresses for girls and white tuxedo jackets for boys.

Dresses should be free of colored accessories, sequins, or other decorations. Backless dresses, as well as plunging necklines, are not allowed.

Boys must wear black dress shoes and black socks while girls must wear white dress shoes- either heels or flats.

According to Senior Adviser Chair, Susie Paunan, this tradition has spanned the majority of New Trier’s history. In the school’s archives, pictures of boys and girls graduating in white go back decades.

Paunan supports the tradition, which, to her, “is about graduating with style and dignity.” She believes that it’s the most important celebration one can have in high school.

“It’s different than a school dance,” Paunan said. “It’s the culminating ceremony of 12 years of education.”

Although not entirely enamored with the ceremony, junior Amber Malik said, “It’s nice that people get to feel a bit more elegant and mature.” She agreed that the dressing up aspect of the ceremony makes it feel like a really big deal, “like everyone has really accomplished something.”

Senior Claire Zimmerman, however, had an opposing opinion.

“I just want to wear my Heelys,” Zimmerman said. “Graduation is our last day of high school, and even though we’re legally adults, it feels like it’s the last day we get to be kids. I don’t know if it’s the kind of celebration I want to end high school with.”

Junior Maddy Tung also said that the attire takes a certain element of festivity away. Although Tung said she likes the air of glamour the attire provides, she finds the absence of school colors a little strange.

Tung said, “It seems like the outfits ‘white out’ the four years they spent at this school.” She believes that at least part of graduation should be about celebrating the realities of high school life, not immediately trying to grow up.

Malik said that although everyone may look nice individually, the different shades of off-white make the whole thing look a tiny bit disorganized up close. Malik said it’s just as important to look more like a group, even if it means sacrificing style.

Junior Allison Thabit agrees with Malik, but for a different reason.

“New Trier already has a reputation for being pretentious,” Thabit said. “I don’t know if it’s worth drawing attention to that.”

It’s often assumed from this tradition that New Trier students are buying exorbitantly priced dresses However, because the cost may be a problem for some students, New Trier hosts a sale each year called the “White Dress Project” to help students buy nice garments for the significantly lower price of $75.

On the New Trier website, the graduation attire requirements are separated into two categories, boys and girls. That being said, it’s no wonder that senior Musa Abbasi was worried about what gender roles this might enforce.

“The way they put it seems really black and white, no pun intended, and things like that can make people really uncomfortable,” Abbasi said. “It’s supposed to be a special, celebratory day, and I wish everyone was allowed to feel confident.”

But Susie Paunan guarantees that anyone who wishes can speak to her or Senior Boys Adviser Chair, Chris Pearson, about a unique situation. Paunan and Pearson are happy to learn about any students’ particular concerns regarding the attire.

If the student’s motives are clear, Paunan can discuss it with the principal to help settle the situation.

Although Paunan says that this only applies to a small number of graduating seniors, she believes that it’s her job to make students feel as comfortable as possible.