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Students on Guam go for a uniform look

Elementary and secondary base schools on Guam will launch a uniform clothing policy this fall for all grades, the only one of its kind for Department of Defense school children in the Pacific, according to school officials.

The policy at Guam’s four schools comes after more than a year of legal reviews, suggestions and planning by students, parents, teachers and school staff, according to Michael Diekmann, superintendent of the Guam district of Domestic Dependent Elementary and Secondary Schools.

The required clothes include khaki bottoms and blue or white tops that can be bought on base or at stores on Guam, Diekmann said Tuesday afternoon. There are no specific shoe, jewelry or book-bag requirements, though current school policies on those items still are in effect, he said.

The policy will start next week, the start of the new school year, but it will not be mandatory until January to give students and parents a chance to adjust to the change, he said.

“We want to make allowances,” Diekmann said, such as for families just arriving to Guam.

The district also wanted to ensure stores were prepared for the extra customers, he said. On Guam, all public and private school students wear school uniforms.

Diekmann said the change comes in part because the schools’ principals were spending time judging the hemlines and baggy waistbands on a few students each day. Some students were interested in establishing a uniform and approached the school board last fall, the superintendent said.

A committee of students and adults worked on the project during the past school year, with the teachers and parents working with vendors and the students designing the uniform.

“I wasn’t going to do it without a lot of student and community support,” Diekmann said.

In the end, the group came up with a mix and match of tops and bottoms that cost about $20 to $30 a set. One vendor offers a mix of 10 pieces, five tops and bottoms, for $110, Diekmann said.

A student-designed school logo will be required only on the sweater and jacket so students can wear the other pieces outside of school if they choose, he said.

Diekmann formerly worked at the Department of Defense Education Activity schools at Fort Campbell, Ky., where the district had a uniform policy. The policy on Guam is similar to the one in Kentucky, he said.

School district lawyers also vetted the Guam plan as a precaution against possible legal challenges, Diekmann said. A common complaint about school uniforms is that they limit a student’s freedom of expression, he said.

But Diekmann sees it differently.

“We’re not talking about freedom of expression,” he said. “We want apparel that is conducive to education.”

The policy will be in place at Guam for three years before the school board will consider extending or rescinding the policy. But the board will review it next spring to consider amendments, he said.


Dressed for success

The new uniform at Guam’s Domestic Dependent Elementary and Secondary Schools includes blue or white shirts, khaki bottoms, a gray hoodie, navy blue sweater and navy blue jacket. Items can be bought at the Army and Air Force Exchange Service or Navy Exchange stores on base, or at three specified off-base stores. Not all stores have all items, but families are not required to purchase all items. Here’s a look at the new uniform:

Girls

Top: A button-down, collared blouse with ¾ sleeves or polo-style shirt.

Bottom: Pants, capri pants, skorts with full wrap-around skirt, Bermuda shorts or cargo-style shorts.

Boys

Top: Button-down, collared shirt with short sleeves or polo-style shirt.

Bottom: Pants, Bermuda shorts or cargo-style shorts.

Both

Navy blue V-neck, long- sleeved sweater; navy blue long-sleeved jacket with hood; gray pullover sweatshirt with hood and front pockets. A school patch must be on the jacket and sweater, not the hoodie.

— Teri Weaver

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