Graduation Gowns

Graduation Gowns

Panthers Pride

Picture of Metro Panthers student posing in new graduation gown in front of classroom mascot mural.

After following the lead of her students and completing the year-long project to design a Metro Panthers mascot & murals in each of the four Juvenile Court classrooms, one of the Dane County Jail teachers, Tina Geier, reached out to the Bubbler with another request based on what she started to hear more frequently from her students after posing in front of the new murals for their graduation pictures. Some students were sharing that they didn't always feel connected to their regular school and it often felt weird or misplaced to wear a graduation gown donning the colors of their "home" school when much of their positive classroom experiences leading up to graduation came from their time as a Metro Panther. 

So when Tina reached out to see if the Bubbler might have the resources or connections to artists in this realm, we were excited to introduce her to Emily Popp, Jennifer Bastian & Bird Ross. One student was pleasantly surprised to see Bird come in on the first day as they initially met while Bird was leading Making Justice sewing workshops at the Juvenile Court Shelter Home a few years prior. 

A close-up picture of the Metro Panthers mascot eyes.



Over the course of one month during the winter of 2023, Emily, Jennie and Bird worked with the students to learn the basics of using patterns and sewing machine to create a graduation gown "first draft", and then moved into the final stage of creating a re-usable leather Metro Panthers graduation gown.

Sewing machines and sharp objects are not allowed into the Dane County Jail, but we had to work with officers to create a safe plan for learning.

While needles and other sharp objects are not allowed within the Dane County Jail facility, Tina's relationship with Dane County Sheriff's department was already in place to discuss and eventually co-design a safe plan to bring sewing machines and other sewing equipment into the Jail only while working on this student-led school project. 

  • Jail student using a sewing machine in the classroom to create a final draft graduation gown.
  • Jail students working together on the sewing machine.
  • Jail student learning to sew.
  • Jail students help each other try on their new Metro Panthers leather graduation gown.



Picture of students posing in front of the new Metro Panthers mural, but wearing old graduation gown colors from other schools.
OLD - Using gowns from former schools to pose for graduation didn't always feel right for some students.
Picture of Jail students posing for graduation pictures wearing their new Metro Panthers gown, in front of the Metro Panthers classroom mascot mural.
NEW - Wearing the new Metro Panthers gown to pose for graduation in front of the classroom mascot mural (featuring teacher Kate).
Metro Panthers digital logo developed by students and Audifax