Hundreds of students in Texas will not be attending their high school graduations because they cannot afford the price of the cap and gown, says Caroline Moss, reporter for the Business Insider. The rental of the cap and gown for the ceremony is about $40, according to KZTV. When senior Grace Powers heard about this problem she created a sponsorship program called “Walk the Stage“. She and her mom had the idea to get people to sponsor seniors who did not have the money so that they could be present to graduate with their friends. With the help of Communities in Schools and its executive director, Gloria Taylor, the idea worked and over more than seniors have been sponsored. On May 20, there were 400 students left to sponsor.
“Many of our seniors that did everything they were supposed to do … they made it,” Taylor told HuffPost. “Then we found out a lot of them were not excited. When we probed, there was a financial need. Some didn’t want to burden their family [with the costs]. Some thought the $40 could be used for something else.”
Eleanor Goldberg, writing for The Huffington Post, says that especially around the Texas Coastal Bend, seniors who are graduating may be the first high school graduates in their family. This is an area where poverty, abuse, and other barriers make it difficult for high school students, and many drop out before the 12th grade.
In the nine districts where Communities in Schools – a nonprofit that helps at-risk teens — works, 40 percent of students are economically disadvantaged, Executive Director Gloria Taylor told The Huffington Post.
In Rockford, Texas, students were in the same fix, says Samantha Jeffreys, reporting for WREX-TV. Although the rental cost of $26.50 may seem small to some, 10% of the senior class could not afford it. Principal Don Rundall says the school makes sure that every student who can not afford the fee will have a cap and gown. H
e says that the school has funds for just this purpose, so every senior who has earned the credit walks. Beyond that, there is one teacher and a number of alumni who donate the money to a student whose family cannot afford it.
One senior, Jennifer Pinon, who had her cap and gown fee donated, said that getting the chance to participate in her graduation was great.
“I’ll probably cry,” Pinon told KZTV10. “My way of letting things out is just by crying.”
According to Governing.com, 86% of all Texas high school students graduate, although those numbers drop to 58% for those with limited English proficiency. For the first time ever, the number of Latino students is greater than the number of white students in Texas public schools this year.