Decorating mortarboards has become a tradition at many high schools and colleges. Folklore expert Sheila Bock says that the decorations started appearing in the 1960s with peace signs and other messages to protest the Vietnam War.
At first, many educational institutions, including Bedford High School, didn’t allow the mortarboard decorations. School officials across the country saw it as being disrespectful to the tradition of the four-cornered graduation headgear, which was developed in the 15th century, based on the birettas worn by clergymen.
Over time, more and more educational institutions allowed the graduating students to bend tradition and add some extra flare to their mortarboards – as long as it was in good taste.
Of course, not everyone decorated their mortarboards, sticking with tradition. The many who did decide to decorate included colorful and creative symbols of where the students will be heading to college, memories of their high school years, and positive messages.
Here is a sampling of what the BHS seniors created.