Uniformity through Uniforms

iPods and uniforms discussed at Molokai High.

By Catherine Cluett

To have uniforms or not to have uniforms? That is the question. The Molokai High School Community Council heard a presentation by parent Michelle Tancayo at their monthly meeting last Tuesday about why Tancayo and other parents are in favor of a uniform dress code policy for the High School.

The uniforms would be only tops, and would apply Monday through Thursday, Tancayo explains. Friday would be “Aloha Friday,” or a free choice of clothing for students within dress code guidelines. “This would be an opportunity for students to express themselves through their dress, something they have expressed concern about losing,” she said. Student input would be taken into consideration when designing several shirt options.

Tancayo states five reasons for having uniforms be a part of the dress code policy: improve school spirit, improve attitudes and seriousness about school, improve focus on school rather than fashion, improve campus safety & security, and improve the sense of belonging and acceptance.

To make the proposal as cost-effective as possible, Tancayo says the uniforms would be offered at cost, and she would look into getting the sponsorship of community agencies and parent fundraising efforts to offset their price.

Tancayo plans to survey students, faculty, staff, and parents about this idea before the Community Council would consider adopting the policy change. If met with approval, the change would be targeted to begin next school year.

To allow iPods or not to allow iPods? That is the second biggest question the Council is currently facing. Justina Luafalemana, student representative to the Community Council, presented a student proposal for the use of electronic devices such as iPods and CD players to be used during students’ free time.

Principal Linda Puleloa explained the proposal is part of a student-organized pilot plan to permit the electronics at the High School, an activity that is currently prohibited. Unofficially however, the decision about whether or not to allow their use in the classroom is up to each teacher. Some faculty members present at the meeting say they do allow the use of music players during study periods, and recognize that for some students, listening to music can be a way to help them focus.

The use of electronic devices has caused concern in the school community for many different reasons, a main concern stemming from the liability of stolen belongings and the possibility of fights breaking out over their possession. Parents have also expressed concern over the types of music their children are exposed to at school.

The pilot plan proposal states that the school is not responsible for loss or damage of electronic equipment, and parents are responsible for the kind of music their children listen to. Students are also not permitted to listen to inappropriate music – containing references to or promoting the use of drugs, crime, offensive language, sex, hate, and violence – in a public setting where others can hear the music.

Both parents and students would be required to sign the agreement, and identification would be established for students who had done so. A trial period would be established for the plan, during which time student activity would be carefully monitored to note compliance levels. If students demonstrate they can responsibly use electronic devices at school, the plan would be permanently adopted.

Concern was voiced at the meeting about the technological consolidation of electronics such as phones, cameras, and MP3 players into one unit. What if a student’s music playing device also had a camera? How does that affect issues like test-taking security? The use of cell phones in the classroom is already prohibited by most teachers. Council members concluded that the proposed iPod policy would not apply to cell phone MP3 player or other combination devices.

“We need to teach our students ethical and responsible use of technology. This is a good place to start,” observed one Council member.

For more information or questions about the Molokai High School uniform initiative, contact Michelle Tancayo at 553-5411.


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