They say that the uniform makes the man, but uniforms are also doing quite a lot for the boys and girls in several of Revere’s elementary schools this year.
After being pioneers at the Paul Revere School, the ever-controversial school uniform issue took a major leap this year as three of the City’s elementary schools switched over to an official school uniform. While the uniform being used isn’t as strict as a traditional outfit seen in a Parochial school, it still requires that students wear the proper school colors with pants or skirts.
Those that changed this year were the McKinley, Garfield and Whelan Schools.
Principal Ed Mocchia of the McKinley School said that he put the idea out there in a parental survey last year and got an 85 percent approval. Meanwhile, on a teacher survey, bringing in school uniforms was one of the top goals for the building.
“The reaction has been fantastic since the first day,” he said. “Parent response has been overwhelmingly positive. We hear every day how wonderful it is. All the principals who were bringing this in kept our fingers cross all summer. We didn’t know what to expect. We didn’t know if we’d have 30 or 40 kids a day not in uniform. It’s hasn’t worked out that way. There are no chronic offenders and most every kid is excited about their uniform. There don’t seem to be any drawbacks so far. There’s been very, very, very little negative response.”
Principals, though, didn’t just keep their fingers crossed, they also consulted with Paul Revere Principal Barbara Kelly – whose school is embarking on its third year with uniforms.
Kelly said that parents at her school wanted the uniform concept and it has actually improved behavior within the student body.
“The students behave differently,” she said. “There is order, structure and less noise. You can even hear it in the cafeteria. When they’re in there with the uniforms, they are more aware, more attentive and proud. You have to just see it to believe it. It really sets a tone, and it’s quite heartwarming.”
Kelly said that one of the major concerns among Paul Revere parents three years ago was the potential cost of the uniforms.
Mocchia said that was a concern at the McKinley this year, too, but it was quickly squashed when parents found out how many places sell the uniforms and how much cheaper they typically are than traditional school clothes.
“It does end up being more reasonable economically,” he said. “To go out and get four or five shirts doesn’t cost all that much. They’re telling me that for $50 you can get five or six items. That really helps because the kids who couldn’t afford designer clothes in the past might have felt bad, and it maybe distracted them from schoolwork. That’s really not an issue now.”
Kelly said that one parent at the school was very much against the uniform, but is now the biggest advocate.
“I had one parent who was really opposed when we proposed it,” she said. “She had three children and thought it would be too expensive. She has come back now and said she was very wrong. Now, she’s one of my strongest supporters of this policy. That’s not all that uncommon.”
Nevertheless, there are many parents who do not particularly like the idea of outfitting their children in such regimented clothes – and prefer that their children are allowed to express themselves with their clothes. That’s still a very popular idea at Revere schools, but the numbers of parents thinking that way might be dwindling.
Only the Lincoln and Beachmont Schools currently have no uniform in place, and according to Lincoln Principal Jodie Gennodie, that could change soon.
Gennodie said a few years ago a parent survey revealed that uniforms were not the preference at Lincoln. However, this year many parents have inquired about getting uniforms at the Lincoln and Gennodie now plans to send out a new parent survey this year to see if attitudes on the subject have changed.
“It may very well be that Lincoln is next to change because this year I’ve had a lot of parents asking about uniforms,” she said. “I think it definitely sets a level of decorum in school and leaves a lot of the outside influences outside because it is no longer about who has what and who does not. It kind of takes the focus off of everything else and puts it back on academics.
“It’s not altogether a bad idea and I’m willing to listen to what my parents are thinking about it,” she continued. “I will be very interested in seeing what the survey reveals.”
Meanwhile, in the halls of the McKinley and the other schools with uniforms, teachers are still amazed at just how eager students are about the new structure.
“The kids look fantastic,” said Mocchia. “They’re so professional and serious and it’s impressive to see them coming down the hall or back into school from recess. I think it has really worked out for the best.