With graduation ceremonies right around the corner some North Texas schools are allowing graduating seniors to decorate their caps.
Destiny Diaz, a senior at Community High School in the Community Independent School District, is at odds with school leaders over her chosen design which commemorates a loved one who recently passed away.
“I don’t want to like, not do this,” Diaz said through tears.
Tradition runs deep at her high school in Nevada, which is tucked away in southeast Collin County. It’s celebrating 70 years, with images of past seniors decorating its halls.
The class of 2018 is celebrated as well. But what should a school do with a young, grieving heart about to graduate?
Diaz will be attending Tyler Junior College in the fall, but the only Tyler she’s thinking about is her boyfriend.
“He was the first boy I fell in love with,” she said. "I was thinking since he won’t be here physically, [I can] honor him with my cap so he could be like, proud that I’m graduating."
Diaz is graduating from the same school Tyler Myers graduated from last year. The teen was killed in a single car crash several months ago.
Out of Diaz’ grief came an idea for a tribute: decorating the top of her graduation cap with two pictures of Tyler and the words, "This one’s for you Tyler."
“I know that this girl did something for her dad last year and I was like, 'that’s a cool idea.' And they let her do it, so they’ll probably let me do it,” she explained.
The young woman who graduated last year does not want to be identified but told NBC 5 she got the idea from Pinterest and asked for permission. She said she was told to include her college on the cap, so she placed a “CC” on the front of the cap, and no one said anything to her.
Although Diaz decorated her cap exactly like the one allowed at the same school last year, she says her principal told her it wouldn’t be allowed this year.
“She said all I could do is put a picture like this on there and then the rest [Tyler Junior College],” said Diaz.
Dr. Roosevelt Nivens, Community ISD superintendent, agreed to speak with NBC 5.
“No one is saying she can’t celebrate [Tyler]. There’s a way you celebrate,” said Nivens. “We all want to mourn and celebrate together but there are guidelines and procedures set in place to make sure that graduation is still a reverent ceremony.”
Nivens said the decision as to what is and is not appropriate is up to his principals, adding that a formal, written policy was necessary after some seniors went rogue last year and showed up to graduation with inappropriate caps.
“Some had profanity. Some had signs of alcohol,” he said. “The majority of the cap has to be designated to celebrate your future steps.”
Dias said her design doesn’t fall under the policy.
“It doesn’t have any alcohol or drugs or anything. It’s about someone who passed away that went to this school and they someone do it last year so why is it such a big deal now?” Diaz asked.
When Diaz was asked if she is willing to make the tribute smaller, she shook her head.
Nivens said the principal has given her several options in an effort to compromise.
“Sometimes you have to say, Yes you can, but it needs to be this way and it’s not just because we say, but it’s because that’s how life is,” Nivens said. “We all have policies, procedures and guidelines that we have to follow even when we go out that door.”
Asked if she thinks she is being difficult, Diaz responded by saying, “I feel like I am, kind of.”
The fight over her tribute brought her to tears Thursday afternoon.
“I feels like I can’t honor him how I want to. It has to be how they want to be and it’s hard,” Diaz said.
Diaz explained she is willing to walk the stage at the May 31 graduation using a new, solid blue cap if school leaders do not change their minds.
Nivens said he’s heard from other district leaders who are dealing with similar issues surrounding graduation caps.