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Matching New Threads

High school committee passes uniform policy.

Molokai High School students won’t have to fuss over what to wear to class next year. Their options just grew slimmer.

On March 12 the School Community Council (SCC) passed a new edict that will require students to wear uniforms – aiming to take effect during the 2010-11 school year.

Rodney Nelson, MHS math teacher and SCC member, said the 11-2 vote in favor of uniforms stemmed from the overall belief that mandatory dress instills a positive and professional learning environment.

“Various studies have shown that uniforms bring a decrease in violence, students attending class more, less write-ups, uniformity and school spirit,” he said. “The SCC deals with educational impact. These are the kinds of things we look at when making decisions.”

Mixed Feelings
The decision brought forth a heavy dose of mixed feelings, especially in part by students.

“I think it would be easier to get up in the morning to get dressed for school,” said sophomore Kyle Reeter. “I already had to wear uniforms in seventh and eighth grade at Molokai Middle School, so it wouldn’t be a huge change.”

While some see it as a convenience, others voiced strong disapproval.

“I don’t like it at all,” said sophomore Durand Jones. “We all want to look unique and [uniforms] take away from that.”

This fear is shared by other pupils, who believe required uniforms would trample their right of self-expression and suppress individualism.

Uniforms in the Making

Although this comes as a shock to some students, the idea of uniforms isn’t a recent one.

Discussion of implementing uniforms has been on the table for quite some time, even prior to Molokai High School Acting Principal Denise Kelly’s arrival.

For several years the concept was tossed around by the SCC – a committee comprised of the principal, four teachers, two students, two community members, three parents, and two school support members – prompted by parents’ concerns over student dress issues.

School officials conducted surveys before acting. Results showed strong support by parents and staff when polls were conducted last school year, Nelson said.

This year, lack of research prompted the committee to turn down the initial vote. Once research was obtained through various online sources, more discussion ensued, leading to a second vote, and finally the approval of uniforms.

For Kelly, the idea of making uniforms compulsory at the high school level was “a mixed bag.” In an e-mail, Kelly said she knew of schools who did well with uniforms and schools who struggled.

Currently, four other schools on Molokai have mandated a uniform policy including Kilohana Elementary, Kualapu’u School, Molokai Middle School and Aka’ula School.

“Having reviewed a lot of research provided by members of the SCC, I was comfortable voting in favor of uniforms to help foster a school climate of education above all else,” Kelly stated in an e-mail.

What’s Next
While the students mull over the new policy, the SCC is quickly moving forward by assembling a sub-committee headed by two SCC members to determine the style of the uniforms. So far, two students have been recruited and the committee is currently looking for more students and parents who would like to give input on the design.

According to Kelly, the committee is looking for a style that is ‘classier’ than a T-Shirt, but still ‘cool.’ The school hopes to provide at least one free shirt to each student to get them started. Funding thereafter would be provided by the families.

Nelson says they hope to make it as cost-efficient as possible and not add a heavy financial burden on families.

Waiver request procedures will be discussed by a policy committee for those parents hard-pressed to pay for new clothes, among other things including uniform policy and dress code revisal.

Anyone with questions or suggestions regarding school uniforms can send their inquiries to mhsuniforms@gmail.com.

Open forum sessions that include school uniforms on their agendas will be held on the following dates and locations:

March 24  5:30 p.m. at Maunaloa School Cafeteria
April 14     5:30 p.m. at MHS Library
April 21     5:30 p.m. at Kaunakakai School Cafeteria
April 27     5:30 p.m. at Kilohana School Cafeteria

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