Modest May program exposes clothing expectations
By Beth Williams, Current Staff
With the mercury rising, the students of WBHS knew what to do – change their attire in order to cool down. Out came the short shorts, flip-flops, and tank tops.
Recently, both students and faculty have become troubled about the clothing that has accompanied this surge in warm weather. Do students truly understand what kind of clothing is appropriate for school?
Many teachers and parents fear that students have never been taught the rules regarding attire. Although the rules are printed in the student handbook, few staff members have ever required the students to actually read it, let alone test students on its contents.
“I’ve never read it,” said Stephanie Shudarek, a senior at East. “It’s too long, and I have homework to do.”
Beth Kastner, one of the schools’ Spanish teachers, also feels that the handbook’s rules are not useful. “The administrative rules are not specific enough,” she said. “We just need to have it more black and white.” Kastner would prefer that the administration would be much more specific on their policies, especially concerning the length of girls’ shorts.
“If maybe the stores don’t have appropriate things, then maybe we don’t wear shorts at school,” Kastner said.
Fortunately, the staff of both East and West has heard these voices of concern. Two major forces in this movement towards appropriate clothing have been English teachers Julie Sorensen and Elizabeth Heine, members of the WBHS Compass program.
The Compass is part of the national PBIS (Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports) program, and it’s designed to help students choose appropriate behaviors while in school.
“If the stores don’t have appropriate things, then maybe we don’t wear shorts at school.”
– Beth Kastner, Spanish teacher
To kick off this campaign, the Compass made an announcement declaring this month “Modest May,” which was greeted by the giggles of students. The part of this announcement that really got students going was that last line: “Remember to wear a sweater!”
Sorensen and Heine did not come up with the idea to address this issue by themselves, however. “It came up from staff input at one of our meetings,” Sorensen said.
The pair has done much of the legwork to get this project underway. They are not afraid to discreetly talk to students if the students are wearing inappropriate clothing, and will even make phone calls home if necessary.
Heine acknowledges that the rules either need to be improved or enforced better. But, she also understands that “too strict of rules will develop” if the staff tries to punish students for their clothing selections.
Sorensen agrees with her fellow teacher. “We should make it clear what’s accepted, but let the kids make good choices,” she said.
West junior Mason Myers recalls a time when a teacher called him out on his inappropriate clothing. “One time I forgot my belt when I came to school,” Myers said. “My pants were sagging, so my teacher sent me to the janitors’ office for a rope. I had to use it to keep my pants from falling down.”
The increased staff involvement in dealing with the inappropriate clothing of students is positive because it will help get this issue resolved faster.
“What you wear is how you express yourself. We should be careful about what we wear because it reflects our personalities,” said Geno Castro, a junior at West.