Ludlowe seniors true blue (and white) to grad gown tradition
Seniors at Fairfield Ludlowe High School have decided to continue to buck the practice at the town's three other high schools where graduates all wear the same garb for commencement.
A decision two weeks ago to have graduates all wear blue caps and gowns as a show of unity became the center of some controversy.
One parent, Joan Casanova, called the Fairfield Citizen to decry what she said was a "discriminatory" action against her daughter, when girls were informed that instead of white graduation robes they would wear the same blue gowns that boys wear. "Why do girls have to be represented as boys?" Casanova said. Her daughter, Eva, is a member of the FLHS Class of 2015.
At FLHS, boys are also given the same blue tie to wear, while girls are given a rose to carry. That would not have changed even if all the Ludlowe graduates wore the same color caps and gowns, school officials said.
Casanova contended the change was made because a student who she said "does not believe in gender identity" went to Ludlowe Headmaster Greg Hatzis to force the change to a single color.
Hatzis denied that allegation, and the next day put the question to a vote of the senior class. He later reported that 86 percent of the 396 seniors voted to stick with the blue gowns for boys and white for girls.
According to Hatzis, the idea behind having all the graduates wear blue graduation gowns initially was to strike a note of unity, an idea he said had been supported by the senior class officers. The decision to put the matter to a vote was made by Hatzis, according to Deputy Superintendent of Schools Karen Parks, to put an end to some "nastiness" that popped up on social media over the proposed change.
"In school, we try to teach our students to express their opinions in a respectful way, and this process allowed that to happen," Hatzis said. "Unfortunately, we have had some people falsely accuse a small group of students for trying to change the tradition to make a social statement. That was never the case."
Parks said the decision to put the issue to a vote came about because of Facebook comments, and was made prior to hearing the complaint from Casanova. Parks said, "Some very nasty and controversial comments started appearing on Facebook and it has gone wild. Apparently, there are some parents who do not share the idea of unity."
Rachel Hurst, 17, said all the girls she knew wanted to wear white gowns. "So we're happy," she said. "It's nice we got to vote."
Emma Koether, 17, said her vote also was for the two-color tradition.
"It's what the girls have always worn and the guys have always worn blue," she said. "I am not really sure why we had to change it."
The blue and white tradition at Fairfield Ludlowe High School, however, is marking only its 10th year in 2015. FLHS was opened in 2003 with ninth and 10th grade classes; the first class to graduate from FLHS was in 2005.
Across town at Fairfield Warde High School, all the 2015 graduates will wear black caps and gowns. Last year at Warde, students either wore red, black or white gowns, depending on which of the school's three houses they were assigned to, but all the gowns will be black this year.
Warde and Ludlowe students will graduate on June 17.
At Notre Dame High School, graduates all will wear blue caps and gowns for the May 29 commencement, while at the boys-only Fairfield College Preparatory School, graduates will wear the traditional white dinner jackets with red bowties at their May 31 graduation.