Camp Lejeune schools debate stricter dress codes
By Thomas Brennan | The Daily News, Jacksonville, N.C. | Published: March 12, 2014
JACKSONVILLE, N.C. — Big changes may be coming to base schools in the next school year.
The Camp Lejeune School Board will host a town hall Thursday at Camp Lejeune High School starting at 6 p.m. where the possibility of changes to dress code requirements will be discussed. The dress code, if changed, could result in a later mandate by the board on uniforms.
The decision to address the dress code was made Oct. 9 by Dr. Aldridge Boone, the Camp Lejeune Schools’ superintendent, when he announced that a dress code committee consisting of parents, students, teachers and staff would be formed. Earlier this year, Boone said the committee’s work found that approximately 72 percent of the 600 people surveyed are in favor of school uniforms. But no final decision has been made.
Boone said the dress code is still a work in progress.
“The committee’s recommendations are still a work in progress and feedback from the school community is an integral part of this process and of our decision-making in an effort to continue to serve our students in good stead,” he said.
Marine Sgt. Victor Medina, 27, likes the idea of school uniforms
“For a dress code to be enforced would be a benefit to the students because it would allow them to focus on how their grades look versus how their shirt or shoes look,” said the father of a first grader who attends a DoD school. “Service members and their partner or spouse are held to a standard when it comes to the dress code so I feel as though it is appropriate that a student be held accountable as well.”
Emelio Garza, co-chairman of the dress code committee, said the dress code changes have been met with little opposition and a lot of support from parents.
“Changes to the dress code would allow more focus on academics and the learning environment,” said Garza, the principal of Brewster Middle School aboard the base. “From the feedback we got from parents, when we have a structured dress code, students know what is expected. With that in mind, we won’t have to worry about what the student is wearing as long as it’s within the dress code. The focus will be kept on learning, which is where it should be.”
Lynn Ramirez, 46, said clothing styles change constantly which will result in them consistently having to rewrite the rules on what is appropriate. One solution to this, she said, is mandating students wear uniforms.
“Some people would say it’s taking away their individuality but they have after school and the weekends to express themselves,” Ramirez, the mom of second and fifth graders. “Plus, for people who are struggling financially and living paycheck to paycheck it would be nice for them to only have to buy a couple pairs of pants and shirts to get them through the school year. It would ease a lot of the burden on families.”
However, there was a time Ramirez did not see the benefit of school uniforms.
“I grew up in a catholic school environment and I couldn’t stand the uniforms; however, now that I am a parent it takes one more thing off the table and I can appreciate the benefit it would have on the students,” Ramirez said. “It stops the children judging them for the clothing they wear or what they can afford. Above everywhere else, school should be a place where you’re not judged like that. If they were all wearing blue shirts and khakis they can focus on schoolwork, which is really what matters.”
Evelyn Dicenso, 44, who has three children in the school system aboard Camp Lejeune, said that she has mixed emotions about a dress code or school uniforms. She said she feels as though school uniforms are a great idea for students in elementary school. Once a student reaches middle school, though, she thinks they should be allowed to dress how they want as long as it is modest, in good taste and follows the school board’s guidelines.
“My daughter who is in ninth grade strongly disagrees with the possibility of a uniform because she doesn’t want to wear the same clothes every day and she appreciates wearing different colors and styles,” Dicenso said. “I am definitely not in favor of uniforms because they get rid of a child’s personal style and removes their ability to express themselves.”