Traditional graduation is unnecessary

What we've accomplished in four years is more important than a ceremony/marketing opportunity

by Ashley Mochizuki, staff

Twelve years of my education does not equate to a slip of paper I get while I wear a robe and a weird hat. Graduation is an unnecessary ceremony, and I’m fine that it got canceled in its traditional form.

by Ashley Mochizuki

For some, graduation might be seen as an important life event that signals a person’s transition into adulthood. That is a valid sentiment, but I personally think the experiences we’ve gone through over these 12 years are more important than the ceremony itself. A person becomes an adult through a series of events; whether we get a graduation ceremony does not devalue what we have accomplished.

For others, graduation might be seen as the last opportunity to connect with friends before people go their ways. This is also a valid sentiment, but the graduation ceremony does not have to be the last time a person sees their friends. 

I believe that in today’s society, graduation is seen more as a marketing opportunity than an actual celebration. Take the company Jostens, for example. Jostens monopolizes senior class merch by creating generic “Class of 2020” merchandise to sell to seniors. 

Furthermore, they also monopolize the graduation robe market at Shorewood. While most online vendors of caps and gowns sell their products for about 20 dollars, according to their website, Jostens charges about 63 dollars (excluding shipping and handling) for their cheapest option. Shorewood students are pressured into buying from Jostens because it is heavily implied by the company and the district to be a requirement to participate in the ceremony. 

There are multiple layers of deception in this rip-off. A Jostens “representative,” or salesman, was sent to Shorewood during school hours. The school forced seniors to listen to a sales pitch from this private company salesman. For weeks following the initial sales pitch, the school actively notified seniors to get in their orders for caps and gowns. 

The company cultivated the perception that the cap and gown are necessary to participate in the graduation ceremony, causing an overwhelmingly large number of students to buy from the company. Some even paid hundreds of dollars for cap and gown “packages.”

I’m not saying it’s bad that our school district decided to partner with Jostens. However, the overall deceptiveness of Jostens’ practices has only added to my negative perception of their business. For example, it should have been clearer that students are not required to purchase a cap and gown from Jostens to participate in graduation. Also, during school hours, seniors should not have been forced into listening to a sales pitch disguised as a “class meeting.” 

Unless the graduation ceremony is actually meant to celebrate seniors instead of acting as a platform for these shady business practices to occur, I believe the ceremony is unnecessary.