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Archive for Friday, August 26, 2005

Dressed to learn

Schools concerned about students’ clothing, but rules vary - and get varied reactions

August 26, 2005

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On Thursday, Kaileen Shanks wore a black trench coat that dragged on the sidewalk when she walked. On another day, she may dress like a preppie or a skater or a Goth.

From left, Lawrence High School juniors Audrea Gutierrez, Alease Graff, and Kaileen Shanks like the fact that they can dress pretty much the way they want to when attending school, although LHS has adopted some new guidelines, including not allowing trench coats inside the school. The three were walking to a park during Thursday's lunch break.

From left, Lawrence High School juniors Audrea Gutierrez, Alease Graff, and Kaileen Shanks like the fact that they can dress pretty much the way they want to when attending school, although LHS has adopted some new guidelines, including not allowing trench coats inside the school. The three were walking to a park during Thursday's lunch break.

"Sometimes, if I'm in the mood, I'll dress up in a prom dress," said the Lawrence High junior with chameleon-like style.

Fashion is an issue school officials say they continually grapple with as they try to balance the need for appropriate academic dress with students' desires for self expression. Add to that mix clothing that is sometimes tight, revealing, skimpy or distracting.

The latest fashions were one reason the Lawrence Catholic School adopted a school uniform policy this year, Principal Patricia Newton said.

"It became an issue of modesty," she said. Now "they look like children. You want to preserve that. We don't want them looking like rock stars."

Schools across town are wrestling with dress codes.

Lawrence High banned spikes and chains. Veritas Christian School loosened its rules to allow sandals, capri pants and plain-front pants, not just those with pleats. Bishop Seabury Academy added blue and green plaid skirts to its list of acceptable clothing.

Pros and cons

At the Lawrence Catholic School, which has students in kindergarten through sixth grade, students are still warming up to the new outfits.

Lawrence Catholic School has introduced a policy requiring students to wear uniforms. The policy offers a wide range of options, including khaki skirts and pants and school brand T-shirts of several colors. From left, St. John school third-graders Makayla Beadleston, Shelby Hill and Bayley Goscha, wear some of the combinations allowed under the new dress code. The three were in gym class Thursday.

Lawrence Catholic School has introduced a policy requiring students to wear uniforms. The policy offers a wide range of options, including khaki skirts and pants and school brand T-shirts of several colors. From left, St. John school third-graders Makayla Beadleston, Shelby Hill and Bayley Goscha, wear some of the combinations allowed under the new dress code. The three were in gym class Thursday.

"I hate them," said Bayley Goscha, a third grader. "You only get to pick out your own clothes on Saturday and Sunday."

James Kenney, 11, said the shorts weren't long enough for his style. He prefers shorts that hang below his knees. And James said he had to unbutton his collar a bit to feel comfortable in the polo shirt.

"They make you look like a dork," he said. "The people who weren't dressing right - they should have made them wear uniforms."

But there are young fans of the new policy, too.

Shelby Hill, 9, wore a tie to picture day last year. Other students pestered her. Now she doesn't have to worry.

"People don't get picked on for what you wear," she said.

Parents of the school's students say there are many pluses to uniforms: There are fewer choices to make each morning, less materialism and fewer class distractions.

Bishop Seabury Academy students Brooke Sutherland, sophomore, and Justin Esau, junior, are limited in their choice of clothes because of their school's dress code.

Bishop Seabury Academy students Brooke Sutherland, sophomore, and Justin Esau, junior, are limited in their choice of clothes because of their school's dress code.

"Although they don't admit it, they like it," said Susie Brown, mother of four children at the school. "I think they're proud."

Free expression

Schools that do have uniforms or strict dress codes say they still leave a bit of leeway for students to express themselves. And there are other ways to stand out.

"I think it encourages more self expression through your personality," said Brooke Sutherland, a Bishop Seabury sophomore.

And self expression is a key point with students.

Lawrence High junior Alease Graff likes to dabble in different looks. She'd quit school if they imposed a uniform policy, she said. And she thinks the current one is a bit tough.

"You can't wear anything that reveals your body too much or covers it up too much," she said.




Some Common dress rules in Lawrence Public Schools

¢ No hats inside buildings ¢ Midsections must be covered ¢ No sagging pants ¢ No suggestive language, profanity, or symbols of drugs or alcohol

Lawrence High Principal Steve Nilhas said the key was to find policies that ensured student safety, promoted a positive learning environment and cut down on distractions, but also allowed kids to be themselves.

"One of the things that makes Lawrence as a city very special and Lawrence High School very special is we do celebrate people's individualism," Nilhas said. "I think it's really important that we take that into consideration."

Comments

nefball1031 8 years, 7 months ago

as a student at lhs, it would be very hard to enforce a dress code like that of bishop.

it's public school not private. some people don't feel comfortable wearing what everyone else is wearing, if you came to lhs for one day you would see what i mean. your clothes can easily describe the type of person you are. and i highly doubt that they would do anything like going to school uniforms at the high schools.

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jaystork 8 years, 7 months ago

Personally, I would have LOVED to wear uniforms in school. It was difficult to afford some of the trendy clothes that "everyone" seemed to wear. Think of all the money saved that would help pay for some really nice weekend outfits!

Now that my children are in school, I wish for the luxury of not having to tell my kids "no" on some choices! There are MANY ways other than clothes to express yourself!

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Jacob Pool 8 years, 7 months ago

i like being able to dress how i want to and i feel strongly against school uniforms. people should be able to just dress how they want to. i would be very disapointed and so would everyone else that goes to Lawrence High School. i think i am speaking for everyone when i say that people should be able to dress how they want to. not be pushed into having to wear some stupid uniforms that make u look like a retard. no one would be happy if that was the decision. even teachers like to express themselves by the way they dress.

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jimincountry 8 years, 7 months ago

Maybe the kids would learn more if they didn't worry about how their clothes compare to that of other class mates.

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jimincountry 8 years, 7 months ago

The male students should wear casual or dress pants(not jeans) and shirts(no printed word or symbol messages); the female students, knee-length skirts and blouses with no messages; and the teachers should dress like adults who want their students to respect them.

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