All three middle schools and two elementary schools will join the school uniform parade this year, making every school in the district (aside from Revere High School) adhering to a strict school uniform code.
“Every student in the district up to grade 8 will be in a uniform this year,” said Superintendent Paul Dakin. “It will be a big change, but one that the parent groups at each of the schools has endorsed. I honestly think it saves parents a lot of stress in the morning about what their child will wear and I know it definitely saves money. Parents have told us that. There has been talk of it at the high school, but I think we all agree that at some point you have to let kids cut their teeth on deciding their own identity. If they have to wait to grade 9 to do that, I’m fine with it.”
The Paul Revere School was the first to debut uniforms two years ago, and they did so with tremendous success.
That led to the McKinley Elementary, the Garfield Elementary and the Whelan Elementary making the change last year. By all accounts, things went quite well.
“I had no complaints last year about school uniforms,” said McKinley Principal Ed Moccia. “Most parents praised it.”
This year, the Lincoln Elementary and the Beachmont Elementary joined the crowd to make every elementary school – um – uniform.
While that will be a change for those school, the biggest changes are expected to come at the middle school level.
All three schools have adopted the school uniform this year, and that only came after several years of parents rejecting the idea. At the end of last year, they seemed to reconsider.
“My School Improvement Council discussed it last year and they voted it down for our school,” said Principal Cindy Evans of the Rumney Marsh Academy. “The Council’s makeup didn’t change much, but they decided to revisit it at the end of the school year and approved it.
The same story played out at the Garfield Middle and the Susan B. Anthony Middle, said Principals Danielle Mokaba and Joanne Willett.
All three middle school principals said they are excited to have their students in uniforms because they anticipate fewer problems.
“I think we all felt it was going to really solve some problems we constantly deal with,” said Willett.
Added Evans, “I think we’ll spend less time on enforcing the dress code and at the middle school level kids push the envelope. Addressing those issues takes time that could be better spent on other issues as opposed to figuring out who has on flip flops and which girl has a low-cut shirt on. “
Mokaba said her school had already seen the uniforms in their building with the Garfield Elementary, and she also said that most other middle schools in the area that she has visited already use uniforms.
Willett said it also is an issue of leveling the playing field for students.
“The uniforms are very cost effective,” she said. “It helps level the playing field for the diversity of the socio-economic piece in our schools. People can buy the $5 polo shirt from Old Navy and not the $50 Abercrombie shirt.”
Evans added that for her school it is a point of pride and school spirit.
“It really does promote school pride for the kids,” she said.
Evans added that she will also be wearing a uniform come next Tuesday, Aug. 27th. However, the uniform is optional for staff and administration.
“I love the uniform,” she said. “In my life I have had the opportunity to work in positions that required uniforms and it’s a relief. It’s one less stresser in the morning so I’m looking forward to it.”
Uniforms are available at most stores in the area, though each school will have specific information about where to get the uniforms. Also, each uniform is different for each school.
For the middle schools, it shakes out like this:
•SBA – Navy, white or red polo shirts with khaki or navy pants or knee-length dresses.
•GMA and RMA – dark green, black or white polo shirts with khaki pants or khaki knee-length dresses.
Needless to say, all three principals said they would be taking a hard line on the uniforms starting day one, and anyone showing up without the uniform will get a call home and a parent or guardian will have to bring the uniform to school. “We’re kind of taking the hard line approach,” said Evans. “We’ve all made calls to the homes and it’s been publicized and parents have been informed about this since the end of last year. So, on the first offense, they will get a call home and the parent or guardian will have to bring a change of clothing to them.”