ASD’s new regalia policy means some graduates can skip the cap and gown

Changes to the Anchorage School District's policies will allow some students to wear traditional regalia when they collect their diplomas.
Published: May. 3, 2023 at 5:50 PM AKDT|Updated: May. 3, 2023 at 6:41 PM AKDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - May is a busy month for high school seniors getting ready to graduate, but this year the dress code at Anchorage School District graduations will be a little different.

For several years the district has allowed students to wear some forms of cultural regalia, but has always required them to wear the traditional graduation gown as well. Now ASD has adapted a new policy based on a statewide law that went into effect this year. It says students wearing cultural regalia can now skip the gown.

“The policy now is a student is invited to wear their cultural regalia if it’s a cap, gown,” Paul McDonogh said, head of ASD’s Indigenous Education Programs. “They could replace the cap, they could bead the cap, or make ornamentation. If they have something to add to the gown — or even just replace the gown — any cultural regalia would be allowed.”

McDonogh said the district will not be requiring students to have their outfits pre-approved. It also plans to be fairly liberal about defining what cultural and ceremonial expression can include.

“If a family really feels committed that something is an authentic expression of themselves, we need to find a way to allow it to be out on the floor,” McDonogh said.

He said students who show up at graduation with something that is deemed unacceptable will be able to change into a gown and still walk the stage.

McDonogh said one thing that will not be allowed is written expression, with the exception of a family name or the year of graduation.

The district expects parents will have lots of questions about the new policy. McDonogh said many answers can be found on the district website. Parents can also call their schools directly and ask to speak with the graduation counselor.