Students in Newcastle upset after district bans the decoration of caps and gowns

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Newcastle, Okla. - Students at Newcastle High School said they were looking forward to decorating their caps and gowns.

“I was going to take a quote from Tangled and make it purple because purple’s my favorite color and say something like 'follow your dreams,'" said student Harlee Kowals.

“I was going to put a Harry Potter quote. Draw little Harry Potter things and say 'I’d rather be at Hogwarts,'" said senior Carmyn Pearn.

But recently, the school board voted to ban decorations on caps and gowns. It's something some students feel is a buzz kill.

“It makes me feel like the school doesn’t have respect for us. That they think we’re not responsible," said Kowals.

"I just feel like it doesn't express who we are and I would like to show my community who I am," said Raylee Vandiver.

We met with the Tony O'Brien, the district's superintendent, to see what's behind the ban. He told us what is considered appropriate is too subjective and the board met with the district's attorney on the matter. Ultimately, O'Brien says either all decorations had to be allowed or none whatsoever.

He also said it's not about freedom of expression.

"We’re trying to hold down their freedom of expression, but graduation is not a place where we express ourselves, that we do it as an academic place and for academic awards," said O'Brien. "It is a privilege to participate in graduation. It is not a right. So, that’s where our board took a stand.”


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