July 9, 2004 – St. Croix Education Complex will enforce a stricter dress code for the new school year. The revised school uniform policy goes into effect in August.
Students will not be allowed to wear baggy pants, denims or jeans. There will be no boot-style shoes, no head wraps or scarves; and boys will not be allowed to wear earrings. Jackets and windbreakers will be allowed only if it's raining, and jackets cannot be longer than waist length and must be unzipped when worn inside the school.
Other restrictions: Students cannot wear cummerbund/high waist-style pants or skirts. Pants also may not be excessively tight, and their legs must not extend below shoe soles. Only black, brown or gray shoes may be worn; sneakers may be black white or gray. The only jewelry allowed is a watch, a class ring for seniors only and one pair of earrings for girls only.
Education Complex High School Principal Kurt Vialet said the changes were adopted toward the end of the 2003-04 school year with the input of the Parent-Teacher Association. "The PTA sanctioned it and helped to get the word out to parents," he said.
According to Vialet, the school administration adjusts the dress code every year to address new fashions the students have adopted. He said the purpose of a school dress code is to take "the fashion out of education."
Students who can afford the latest designer wear create a "fashion show" in the halls, he said, as "they walk around so everyone can see their new boots or new clothes." He wants to "cut out the fashion factor and concentrate on education."
Vialet said the dress code changes have nothing to do with the killing of Jahmalie Henry on June 1 at the school. Henry, a 19-year-old Complex student, died of wounds from a sawed-off shotgun reportedly carried onto the campus parking lot in a book bag. The alleged assailant, a 17-year-old Central High student, has been charged with first-degree murder.
"The shooting was an isolated incident caused by outsiders," Vialet said. The dress code changes have "nothing to do with it."
In the view of May Adams Cornwall, Complex PTA president, dress codes are a good thing. She said the fashions that students wear to school defeat the purpose of the uniform policy. "You can still be creative with your wardrobe and fall within the policy," she said.
In many places across the nation, school uniform policies were adopted to take the competition out of dressing "right," bending to peer pressure, and to bring the level of dress to an even standard. School administrators believe that student uniforms are cost effective and promote a safe and healthy learning environment. School uniforms, they say, help keep students focused on learning, not on clothing.
Parents and guardians can get a copy of the three-page revised student uniform policy at the school.
"Fashion is for after-school activities," Vialet said. "Students come to school with their hair done and their nails done, and they are failing. We need to concentrate more on education."
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