The school board at Oak Park and River Forest High School is poised to take two actions that will substantially change graduation traditions at the school. And because so much of any school’s graduation springs from long tradition, we get that change is difficult, even when necessary.

For a century and more, boys at OPRF have donned dark suits for graduation while girls have worn long white dresses. That tradition has been the subject of great debate every year for the past couple of decades. Why are girls required to be in dresses? Why white dresses that suggest being married off? A compromise allowing white dress pants helped somewhat. But then in the past few years complex issues of gender fluidity have rightly been raised. 

Add in the cost for those one-time-use suits and long dresses, and the financial burden it creates for many families, and a solution becomes obvious.

Caps and gowns. All navy blue. 

That’s the direction the board is headed and it is the right outcome.

Meanwhile, the graduation venue is also up for a shift. The school is recommending shifting graduation to the UIC Pavilion at Racine and Harrison. The indoor setting at UIC will avoid last minute, and always challenging, shifting of the ceremony from the football field to the field house. Plus, with the far larger seating capacity at UIC, families will be able to invite aunts and uncles, grandfolks and siblings who have long been squeezed out of the on campus event. 

This change is tougher but it also makes sense.

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