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  • Sara Thompson

Graduation Ceremonies Tap into History

Square academic cap being tossed in air by fresh graduates
Square academic cap being tossed in air by fresh graduates; Photo by Wikimedia Commons user AKS.9955

By Sara Thompson

Special to the Enterprise

The cap and gown are a common sight among graduations nationwide. The long gowns started as black or grey, but with color photography came more and more color variants. The cap usually matches the color scheme of the gown, but its design has remained much the same over time.

The origins of these traditional items date back to the origins of universities in the 12th and 13th centuries in Europe. Teachers and professors in these early colleges and universities were part of the clergy. They wore robes and skull caps as part of their regalia and to show their status. Their long robes may have helped to keep themselves warm in the drafty, unheated buildings they were teaching in. Students may have adopted the same robes to also keep themselves warm and to help them stand out as part of the university.

The cap is often called a mortarboard cap as the square top resembles the tray a bricklayer holds when laying mortar. The style of cap has changed over the years. Caps worn by clergy and university students began as simple head coverings and with fashion trends changing so did the head wear. Caps have changed from rounded, pillow-like caps, to caps almost as tall as modern chefs' hats. The square shaped cap we recognize today came about in the 16th century and were popular with because they required less materials to make and more could be made.

America’s first colleges and universities were modeled after those in Europe and kept many of the traditions. As those graduates started their own schools, many of the traditions continued as well. Some things have changed, the cap and gown are not worn by the students all the time but are reserved for graduations as recognition of achievements.

Explorit staff and Board of Directors congratulates and recognizes the achievements made by our volunteers graduating this week. A huge thank you and congratulations to Gracie Westergaard, Jake Blumwald, Jack Maurantonio, Mesara Jayalath, Mia Gunasekera, Mia Mangney. We appreciate all that you have done for us and wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors.

Congratulations to The Graduating Class of 2021!


Explorit's coming events:

• Explorit’s Summer Science Camp is back for 2021! Beginning in June and running through to mid-August, our camps are filled with fun, hands-on science activities. Summer camp runs from 8:00-11:15am Monday-Friday. Fee for summer camp is $175 for Members/$200 for Non-Members. Available camps are designed for grades K-3, 1-4, and 4-6. Visit for more information and registration.

• We will remain closed to the public through the summer. We are planning on opening a new exhibit with cleaning and safety protocols in place for fall of 2021.

• Like many small businesses the closures have had a significant impact on our income and sustainability. Now is a great time to donate and help Explorit continue to educate and inspire the scientists of tomorrow:

• Continue to support Explorit during this uncertain time by becoming a member. An Exploit Membership not only support us but grants the recipient with free visits to Explorit’s regular public hours, discounts on events, summer and after-school camps, and workshops, and gives you ASTC benefits to visit other museums throughout the world. For more information visit or call Explorit at 530-756-0191.


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