Thursday, July 10, 2003

Hooded sweat shirts OK at all Middletown schools

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer contributor

MIDDLETOWN - "Hoodies" are coming back to the Middletown Schools after a five-year absence.

Beginning in August, students at all Middletown Schools will again be allowed to wear hooded sweat shirts following a change in the dress code approved this week by the board of education.

But at the same time, board members reminded parents there was a policy in place to explore the possibility of uniforms.

About 80 percent of the incoming juniors and younger students came from Vail Middle School, which has a uniform policy.

For the past five years, hooded sweat shirts have been banned, much to the dismay of students who say hoodies are all the rage.

"I'm happy that they let us wear them,'' said Jillian Greer, who was freshman class president. "Everybody wanted to wear them. The designers have come out with some really cute ones."

The change came about through the efforts of student government at the high school, which asked that the sweat shirts be allowed on a trial basis the second half of the 2002-'03 school year.

In a note to the board, principal Dennis Newell said no problems were encountered during the trial and it helped "because many students have to travel back and forth between MHS and the Manchester building, sometimes more than five times daily. The sweatshirts have afforded them some protection from the elements."

The prohibition on wearing outer garments - including the sweat shirts - was put in place so students couldn't bring weapons into school or hide their faces while engaging in illegal activities, Newell said in his note.

"We have the problem with large jackets under control," Newell wrote.

While students are pleased with the change allowing sweat shirts, they are less thrilled with the possibility of a committee being formed to study uniforms.

"I think the teachers like them, but the students didn't," said Rebekah Farthing, 15, who wore uniforms at Vail.

Rebekah said she wouldn't mind a uniform shirt with logo "because it promotes school spirit, but that's as far as it should go."

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