Seniors pick royal blue gown for all to wear graduation day


Contributed photo

This is the graduation gown seniors selected for this years commencement. All seniors — boys and girls — will wear such a gown.

Shannon Ahearn and Jerick Gonzalez

As DHS continues to reinvent multiple facets of its image with the help of a branding firm, the graduation gowns have been changed from those of years past.

After a photo was leaked on social media of a preliminary gown option, many students had concerns regarding the choice. However, seniors were polled throughout the course of March — as the plan always was — to make the final decision as to which gown they would walk in at graduation on June 22.

Previously, graduating girls wore white gowns and boys wore blue. The gown chosen by this year’s graduating class — boys and girls — is royal blue with a white collar. On the upper left, the Danbury High School emblem is attached to the collar. The faculty will continue their tradition of wearing black gowns.

“I’m happy that they had the poll and I like the gown better [than the one from the picture],” said Sierra Sikorski, senior. “For the most part [the class officers] handled it well. They were under a lot of fire but there wasn’t really much they could do.”

Sikorski was one of many seniors who were unhappy with what they had thought was the final gown — a blue gown with orange cuffs and an orange collar with a DHS seal on it. Upset students and parents took to texting and social media, saying among other things that it looked like a clown’s costume.

However, the gown in the leaked photo was never intended as a last decision.

“It wasn’t a finished product,” said Principal Dan Donovan. “We went through a whole bunch of different gowns and what they looked like; that was the latest one that came back with the seal on it and that’s what was shown.”

Senior advisers Emily Pardalis and Melissa Teel declined to comment.

Donovan is aware of the concerns of the seniors. Another version was mocked as looking like an outfit from the Puritan days.

“I get it, some people have different tastes,” Donovan said. “No matter what gown we choose, someone’s not going to like it. We can’t please everybody.”

The vice president of the Class of 2018, Christina Britton, attributes the backlash to the fear of change. “Usually the tradition is that girls wear white and boys wear blue,” Britton said. “Parents were outraged that we were breaking the tradition.”

Senior Yacodou Johnson expressed a different opinion than many other classmates: “I knew that it would get a lot of backlash. I saw the Facebook posts and everything. But for me, personally, I was OK with anything. We’re going to be out there for two, maybe three hours…it’s just a gown.”

Johnson continued: “I stayed after for the meeting and Donovan was super nice about it, very open to any ideas and suggestions that we had. It all went very smoothly. People’s initial reactions were panicked but they didn’t see what was actually happening.”

The gowns that were created had the purpose of creating gender neutrality among the student body. “If we have transgender students who have to declare blue or white in October, it might not be what they’re declaring in June,” Donovan said. “It’s unfair to make them feel any anxiety going in [to graduation].”

Britton agrees with changing the gowns and having students of all genders wear one gown. “It shouldn’t be discriminatory with girls wearing white and boys wearing blue,” Britton said. “We’re graduating as one class, as one school, wearing one gown.”

The introduction of a new gown that students of all genders can wear has led to the creation of a unified student body. “We’re all one Hatters whether we’re male or female,” Donovan said.