Community rallies around Montclair seniors after miscommunication over caps, gowns
The Montclair community showed up for the soon to be graduates of Montclair High School in an effort to collect used caps and gowns after an initial announcement — later retracted — was sent out by the township early Thursday, June 23, stating that a “shipping error” occurred and the gowns were not being delivered.
Katya Wowk, the director of communications for the township, received a message from a concerned parent saying they were missing “more than 200 cap and gowns.” The parent asked Wowk to send out a town-wide email encouraging residents to drop off used graduation regalia to a house close to the high school.
“It was just a parent worried about the kids. When I saw the message I thought ‘Wow it would be really sad if everyone doesn’t have a cap and gown,’ but that wasn’t the case,” Wowk said.
Within hours, Wowk was informed that the school does have enough caps and gowns for students and that the previous information was “incorrect.”
The principal of Montclair High School, Jeffrey Freeman, sent out an email to parents stating that the missing caps and gowns was “misinformation.” According to the email, when the school initially started caps and gowns distribution on Wednesday, June 23, the school noticed some missing caps, gowns and tassels. The school then contacted representatives from Jostens, the company responsible for providing graduation regalia, and were told that the missing gowns and caps would be delivered in the afternoon, according to the district.
Voicemails from Montclair Local on June 23 to the assistant principal, Reginald Clark, and with Jostens have not yet been returned.
Despite initial claims made to Wowk and other parents on social media, Freeman said “several hundred missing caps and gowns” were not missing. Graduation regalia distribution continued on Thursday and Friday, where all graduating seniors are expected to receive their caps and gowns, according to Freeman.
Though members of the Montclair High School class of 2022 will have their new caps and gowns, some parents wish they had better systems in place so students won’t have to fork out the money to wear something once.
Evan Cutler was one of the parents who advocated to bring back a Montclair High School tradition where caps and gowns are donated after graduation so students wouldn’t have to pay for the regalia. According to Cutler this year was the first time the gown collection had not been done.
“We tried to reinstate it so kids wouldn’t have to pay, you know, $30 for something that you’re going to use once then sits in your closet,” Cutler said. “We tried to get that and our requests fell on deaf ears.”
Though the situation is rectified now, Ann Bisan, head of Project Graduation, is still collecting used caps and gowns at her home near the high school. When the email blast calling for donations was first sent, Bisan collected 25 to 30 caps and gowns from the community in a few hours.
“I am still taking collections. I would rather we have them than not if people discovered on Sunday that they didn’t have them,” she said.