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Bester's uniforms get mixed reviews

August 15, 2003|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

Some Bester Elementary School students and their parents say they think wearing school uniforms will help students see themselves as equals, while others say the move is not a good idea.

The elementary school will be the first public school in Washington County to ask its students to wear a uniform - either a green or white polo shirt embroidered with "Bester Academy," and jeans or khaki pants. Other Bester shirts also may be worn.

Savanna Remington, 10, said she likes the polo shirts because "they have a pretty bear on them," but said she doesn't want to wear them every day. She said she'd rather wear her shirts with "pretty flowers on them."

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Her mother, Barbara Remington, 40, said "Kids are going to be kids, it doesn't matter what they wear."

Fifth-grader Jaid Sandeen, 10, said students at the elementary school "don't make fun of other people's clothes."

She said she thinks uniforms prevent students from expressing themselves and are more appropriate for older students.

"High school students are the ones who wear really short shorts and they don't follow the dress codes like elementary kids do," Jaid said.

Christine Mackey, 37, who has a daughter in fifth grade at Bester, said she thinks the uniforms will "be helpful ... I've seen children go there wearing clothes that look like they've been slept in for weeks."

Her daughter Allison Mackey, 9, said she thinks uniforms will serve a purpose. "Nobody will make fun of anybody else," she said.

Kristy Sollenberger, 32, the parent of a 7-year-old who attends Bester, said she doesn't think uniforms are appropriate for elementary-aged children.

Her son will not wear the uniform, she said.

"If I wanted him to go to a private school and wear a uniform I would have sent him to a private school," she said.

Kim Sandeen, who will be the school's PTA president beginning this school year, said she has heard rumblings that some parents do not plan to send their children to school in the designated clothing, but said she won't have a good idea of what parents think about the idea until the PTA meets next week.

Sandeen said most parents should be able to afford the uniforms. She cited discounts offered by the school for students who receive free and reduced priced meals, Children in Need and through incentive programs through which parents who volunteer at the school can earn free shirts for their children.

The shirts cost $10, or $5 for those who qualify for free and reduced priced meals.

"It's a lot cheaper to buy a few shirts and a couple pairs of khakis than spending a bunch of money on clothes for school," said Sandeen, who has two children at Bester.

Bill Heinrich, who has three children at Bester, went to private schools as a youth and wore uniforms. He said those uniforms enabled the rich and the poor to blend with one another.

Fifth-grader Jordan Nicewarner, 10, said the uniforms may allow him to sleep a little later in the mornings because he won't have to spend time picking out clothes for school.

Jordan said that on field trips, people who see groups of Bester students together will "know that everyone belongs to the same school."

"Last year we wore our own clothes and like we were just like every school, and now I feel like we're a special school," Jordan said.

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