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Pa. district considers school uniforms

September 25, 1998|By RICHARD F. BELISLE, Waynesboro

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - Several dozen Greencastle-Antrim students told school board members Thursday night that forcing them to wear school uniforms would destroy their ability to express themselves.

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"Uniforms will restrict our right to free expression," said Jennifer Freeman, 15, a sophomore at Greencastle-Antrim High School. She said students in every school in the district are circulating petitions against uniforms.

Schools Superintendent P. Duff Rearick said the school board is considering a policy that would require all students in kindergarten through 12th grade to wear uniforms.

The board heard comments from students Thursday night. About 100 people attended the meeting in the Greencastle-Antrim High School auditorium.

Parents will have a chance to express their views at a meeting on Oct. 8.

Rearick said a final vote on the issue could come in January.

So far the board has not come up with a definition of what a uniform would be. It could be as simple as khaki pants and skirts topped by white shirts, Rearick said.

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School board member Johne F. Minnich at a meeting last spring proposed the idea of requiring students to wear uniforms. Minnich said there are too many violations of the school dress code by students.

The Pennsylvania General Assembly earlier this year passed a law allowing local school boards to introduce uniform policies, Rearick said. So far only a few districts in the state have done so, he said.

Whether uniforms become school policy will be a community decision, Rearick said.

Students at the hearing left little doubt what their opinions are on the matter.

"Uniforms are not cool enough," said one high school student. "What we wear explains who we are. With uniforms we'll all look the same. How will you pick us out? Why make all students wear uniforms just because some break the dress code?" he said.

Trevor Kimmell, 13, said students express themselves by their clothes.

"The Communist countries required students to wear uniforms. For years we've been told when to go to bed, when to eat, when to leave. The only choice we have is what to put on in the morning when we go to school," he said.

Student Michelle Lackey said she likes the freedom to chose what she wants to wear. She said some girls wear shorts that are too short to class and some boys wear jeans that are too baggy.

"I see a lot of offensive clothing. Be more strict with the dress code, but don't take away our privileges," she said.

"Students will find a way to wear their uniforms according to their individual style," said Robert Jones, a junior. "Administrators think they can make us all alike, but we are all individuals. If this passes then administrators should wear uniforms too. Think back when you were our age and you would feel the same way we do," he said.

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