How to Decorate a Mortarboard for a High School Graduation

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The mortarboard cap is a standard symbol of graduation. Many graduates elect to make modifications to this standard commencement headpiece by adding personalized decorations. This can help family and friends identify their graduate more easily in the sea of students; it also lets the graduate to express his personal interests. You can easily decorate your mortarboard with a few simple tools and a little time and effort.

  • Mortarboard hat
  • Tape
  • Cardstock
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Markers
  • Paint (optional)

1 Lay your mortarboard

Lay your mortarboard hat upside down on a sheet of standard cardstock, pressing the square section onto the paper. You can use a sheet of cardstock that is the same color as your mortarboard, or create a contrasting effect by selecting a different color.

2 Creating an outline

Trace around the square section of the mortarboard hat, creating an outline of the hat top.

3 Cut along the traced lines

Cut along the traced lines, creating a square that is the same size as your mortarboard hat top.

4 Place the square on the hat top

Place the square on the hat top, and draw an X in the center, where the large button on which you attach the tassel lays.

5 Cut a square

Cut a square in the center of your cardstock sheet, removing the x-ed out section, and allowing the button to poke through the cardboard. If you skip this step, you will not be able to attach the tassel to your hat come graduation day.

6 Draw a design

Draw a design or write a message on your cardstock sheet. Use markers or paint to decorate your sheet. Common messages include, “Hi Mom!” or “I did it!”, but you can add any message you see fit.

7 Tape your cardstock to your mortarboard top

Tape your cardstock to your mortarboard top. Create tape loops, and place them on the top of your hat. Line your designed cardstock sheet up with the edges of your hat, and press down firmly to secure your decoration to your hat top.

  • Check your school's graduation dress code before you devote time to the decoration of your mortarboard. Some schools have strict rules against any modifications to standard graduation attire. If you violate these rules, you may be required to remove your decorations or even not be permitted to participate in the ceremony.
  • Keep it clean. Most schools will not tolerate inappropriate messages written on mortarboards or in any way displayed by student graduates. Even though the school no longer has the ability to punish you for any misbehavior, you can negatively impact graduation festivities by pushing the limits or stepping out of bounds with your decorations.

Erin Schreiner is a freelance writer and teacher who holds a bachelor's degree from Bowling Green State University. She has been actively freelancing since 2008. Schreiner previously worked for a London-based freelance firm. Her work appears on eHow, Trails.com and RedEnvelope. She currently teaches writing to middle school students in Ohio and works on her writing craft regularly.

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