Decorating Graduation Caps is Back!


Marie Hamilton

Golden Valley Mascot, Graham Grizzly, holding his beautifully decorated graduation cap!

As of 2023, students of Golden Valley Highschool will now be permitted to decorate graduation caps! 

“I’m so happy we [ASB] were able to work with admin to put everything together,” shares Jiana Williams, ASB Senior President and collaborator, alongside Danielle Cox, ASB executive President, and Hart Board Student Representative. 

 “Our class is the test run to see how future graduations will go. We’re the reason it’s happening, but we don’t want to be the reason it’s taken away and may not come back.” 

Grad Cap Requirements

Keep it classy! Stay Golden.


  • Decorating your cap is a type of limited public forum
  • Parents are expected to play a role in reviewing caps
  • No messages that promote, division, hate, or bias
  • Intent and meaning need to be clear and obvious, ambiguous messages or symbols can be prohibited
  • Decorations must be firmly and permanently attached (gems, paints, bedazzled, small glued flowers)
  • If caps don’t clear review, you will be walking without a cap
    • A review can happen during sunset or practice, but a final review will happen during graduation
    • Replacement caps will not be available at the ceremony
  • Must follow dress code

Not allowed:

  • No images, markings, or messages directed towards the school, the occasion, or any person that are likely to provoke or incite anger, violence, or disruption of the event
  • No images, markings, or messages that are crude, vulgar, profane, sexually suggestive, or which demonstrate racial, ethnic, or religious prejudice.
  • No images, markings, or messages that promote tobacco, drugs, or alcohol or any intoxicants.
  • No images, markings, or messages that promote violence, crime, gang activity or are otherwise antagonistic to social norms.
  • Items that can be removed and thrown are prohibited
Examples of acceptable decorations used in the ASB Proposal.

Why Now?

After ASB submitted a proposal to revise the school’s graduation policy, Golden Valley officially assented to the practice. ASB’s proposal was formally accepted through our student body’s and administration’s collaborative efforts to implement appropriate guidelines surrounding these modifications.

In determined advocation for the advancement of the proposal, Student Board member Danielle Cox and ASB member Jiana Williams sourced recognition over Hart Districts Board Policy 5127“students deserve a public celebration that recognizes the significance of their achievement and encourages them to continue the pursuit of learning throughout their lives.”

Jiana and Danielle, alongside many others, are thrilled for the Class of 2023 to start an exciting tradition such as this. It is highly emphasized that guidelines are adhered to keep this opportunity open for future graduating classes to “highlight something they are proud of” and give a “unique aspect to uniform.”

The two added, “Without a decorated cap, besides when they are receiving their diploma, students are reduced to a spec of sand in a beach full of black and gold graduates.”

When asked about the proposal’s progression, assistant principal Mr. Necessary had this to say: “Some representatives of ASB met with us, and we had a good conversation about how Golden Valley unification can be maintained with more opportunities of expression and decided that’s the direction we want to go.”

In the past, the embellishing of caps for graduation was prohibited under the notions of uniformity and the goal of maintaining “a unified, dignified graduation.” However, through this year’s conversations with ASB, the school’s perspective evolved to be more in favor of valuing self-expression. 

The school has chosen instead to highlight our unity within the diversity of individuals. “People have a variety of things that they may be going into post-high school, but the constant is our high school. The emphasis was always on graduating together.”

The enacted requirements currently in place to regulate the decor of grad caps may be subject to change as the administration sees fit. Mr. Necessary adds, “Anytime you have something like this, there are limitations… there may be some revisions if we notice things we didn’t before, but the guidelines are there to keep it a positive celebration.” 

We’re Not The First… And Expectantly Not The Last

The senior year often entails a special time in students’ lives as they experience numerous activities and events for the last time. These events are a staple to the senior year experience, from winter formal to prom to grad night. 

However, the graduating class of 2021 did not have the luxury of these staples as a result of the global pandemic. For this reason, they were the only class, at the time, permitted to decorate their graduation caps. 

Golden Valleys’ principal, Sal Frias, witnessed this first-time change unfold. “The last time we did this, it was positive. We may have missed a couple, but nobody was offended to a point where we had to do something—that’s a busy night for us. We’re trying to make sure people are here and are dressed appropriately, and that silliness doesn’t happen.”

This is an outstanding graduating class, and I have a lot of faith and confidence. I’m excited to see what people will put on their caps.

— Sal Frias, Principal

Golden Valley High School has prided itself on upholding a traditionally classy graduation ceremony for years. With this new revision of school policy, admin has taken a step forward in redefining uniformity — “We just wanted to give it a shot. This is an outstanding graduating class, and we hope the others follow suit.”

The installment of policy change this year was a process heavily assisted by Mr. Frias, a recent opponent to the modifications who has now reconsidered the benefits of permitting cap decor: “I run everything by our admin team, so we think about pros and cons, right and wrong, rules, laws, policy—after discussion, we decided we would revisit our stand on that and agreed to allow with some parameters.”

“We’re about ready to firm up some of the outlines,” Mr. Frias adds in response to the conduct of cap-decoration regulation. “We’re hoping to see the unity of the class still somehow with the caps. It’s kind of an experiment, but at the same time, we have a lot of confidence that this class can do it the right way.”

Administration this year has chosen to trust the class’s judgment to be respectful in taste and uphold the high standards to which Golden Valley has actively ensured in the past. Holding confidence in this year’s graduating class to lead by example, admin concluded that if there were ever a time they would make this change, it would be now.

Representing Golden Valley’s unity is a priority that school leaders wish to preserve in this wave of change: “I want people to represent themselves and their school how they feel appropriate and towards their future. I’m curious and optimistic it’s going to be a very positive night.” 

Mr. Frias acclaims, “I’m not just saying this, I don’t say this to every graduating class, I promise you. This is an outstanding class, and I have a lot of faith and confidence. I’m excited to see what people will put on their caps, to be honest.”

We’re Not The Only Ones

The decoration of grad caps has been permitted and actively in practice at Hart High School since 2020. 

The prior policy that once prohibited mortarboard decor was reconsidered after administration had assessed the multitude of surrendered senior activities that year due to the pandemic.  

While once unconvinced of the revision in policy, Hart principal Jason d’Autremont found that it was possible for both self-expression and the dignified prestige of similitude could still be achieved when done right. d’Autremont shares, “We allowed for creativeness and uniqueness, I think with a graduating class, they should all be uniform, but with the uniqueness and creativity and keeping it classy.”

A recurring dispute surrounding the practice of cap decorating is its challenge to uniformity. However, this tenuous argument lacks recognition of similar traditional practices, including differing robes and cords for individuals, own unique accomplishments. 

When asked about the disputation, Jason d’Autremont had this to say: “I don’t think promoting what college you are going to is putting people down, and if it is, that same thing can be extended to honors robes.”

Having upheld regulatory directives over the decoration of graduation caps since permitted in 2020, Hart has reportedly not seen a single student break these rules in the last two years.

To adorn and enhance our graduation caps is a fun opportunity for graduating classes to express themselves as they commit their accomplishments to a mode of art. As students have awaited this moment for so long, it is collectively in our best interest to abide by set guidelines in an effort to ensure future classes will enjoy this same opportunity. It is in our diversity that we find collective unity.