The Student News Site of St. Charles East High School, 1020 Dunham Road, St. Charles, Illinois 60174


The Student News Site of St. Charles East High School, 1020 Dunham Road, St. Charles, Illinois 60174


The Student News Site of St. Charles East High School, 1020 Dunham Road, St. Charles, Illinois 60174


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What is the D303 graduation gown policy and how are students feeling about it?

Class of 2021 at the NIU Stadium for graduation. Photo provided by St Charles East High School

District 303 has a policy about decorating their graduation gowns. Many students don’t know about this policy, and most aren’t happy.

According to the St. Charles East College and Career Website, in District 303, academic accolades such as club stoles and state qualifying pins can not be worn at the graduation ceremony. The only chords allowed to be worn are Honors cords. The top 25 percent wear orange chords, the top 10 percent wear white, and the 5 percent wear gold. They are also recognized for their respective placement on the Laude system.

The Laude system is the honors ranking system based on Grade Point Average (GPA). Those with an unweighted GPA above 3.7 (or 4.7 at East) are ranked. There are three levels in the laude system. From lowest GPA to highest GPA are Cum Laude, Magna Cum Laude and Summa Cum Laude.

However, academic clubs such as the National Honors Society have stoles available to purchase or rent for students to represent their accomplishments but the district does not allow them. Additionally, students who take AP Capstone are not allowed to participate in wearing AP cords and stoles. Other surrounding districts such as Batavia provide both cords and stoles for students, but both Geneva and D303 prohibit what students may wear at graduation. Many are wearing only the cap, gown, school tassel and medal.

Many higher-level classes at East are easily accessible to a variety of students. However, certain classes like English 101 require at least a 480 on the reading section of the PSAT /SAT as a prerequisite. English 101 is one of the college-level courses offered at East through Elgin Community College.

To get opinions on this policy, I talked to some classmates and peers, regardless of whether they were taking AP/ Honors classes or standard. For many this was their first time hearing about the policy. I started by explaining the policy and asking them if they were in honors classes, then I asked if they thought the policy was fair.

A classmate and runner for the Cross Country team, Kendall Crossen, discussed students’ many academic opportunities at East. “It’s unfair because the students in those [Honors and AP] classes worked hard for their achievements and those honors chords,” she said. “The other students taking standard classes could have had the same opportunities but didn’t take it.”

Another classmate, Yadira Celaya, simply said “Kids should have pride in doing the most difficult classes in the district. Those in standard classes chose to take standard classes.”

Additionally, junior Aurelia Hanson, another classmate who opposed the policy, spoke about the unfairness of the district’s policy saying, “They worked hard in those classes. I don’t understand who wouldn’t want them to wear the chords at graduation.”

In addition to AP and honors classes receiving chords, certain clubs can earn pins from the state competition. Those pins are also not allowed at the graduation ceremonies.

Regarding state pins, East is known for its academic accomplishments and state awards. Each year, Multiple clubs and sports teams at East qualify for the state competition.

Listed under the competitive tab on the East Clubs website are the clubs that go to state. Some of those clubs include the debate team, DECA, FCCLA, Math team, Mock Trial academic team, Model United Nations, Scholastic Bowl, Science Olympiad, SkillsUSA, Speech and Acting, X-ray and Ultimate Frisbee.

In the conversations with others regarding the state pin, they hadn’t known about the policy until I talked to them. Many were disappointed they couldn’t show off their accomplishments from the state competition at graduation. One person who wished to remain anonymous said, “My club and I worked hard to get to state. I can’t believe I won’t be able to wear the pin I got.”

All the people I talked to were disappointed by the district’s policy. Even those taking only standard classes didn’t like it. Many just want to show off the accomplishments they worked for, but they won’t be able to at graduation.

Graduation is a time to celebrate students’ accomplishments, not diminish them. Many teachers and parents know how hard the students work for a class or a club. As a district, we love to show off each school’s achievements, so why not take the opportunity at graduation too? But, unfortunately for right now, the policy will not be changing.

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About the Contributor
Ella Seaton
Ella Seaton, Staff Writer
Ella is a junior at East and loves writing and traveling. Ella plans to pursue a future in music journalism.

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