Carver High School students returned to classes Monday donning clothing prescribed by the school’s new Standard Mode of Dress (SMOD) policy for the very first time.
The new strict dress standard prohibits visible logos on clothing and requires students to wear collared shirts and black or khaki slacks or skirts.
School officials said the first day under the new policy went off without many hitches, though a few students had to call home for a change of clothes because they did not arrive dressed appropriately.
“I’ve never had uniforms before and it’s an experience for me,” said Wanye Tate, a junior member of the school’s Student Council and Carver Against Destructive Decisions in Youth (CADDY) club. “It’ll help me because when you go for interviews and go to work places, you’ll have to dress up anyway, so this will get me used to it.”
Shaquira McDonald, also a junior, said she doesn’t like the dress code one bit.
“I feel like we should have our own say about what we’re wearing,” said the 16 year-old Statesville native who transferred to Carver last year. “We’re basically adults now.”
McDonald, who plans to try out for the soccer team this year, said the restrictive nature of the policy is cramping her personal style.
“I feel kind of like I don’t have my own style … because I’m just dressing like everybody else,” she declared. “It took away my individuality.”
Assistant Principal Michael Mack was among those who pushed for the dress policy, which school administrators say received the thumbs-up of 92 percent of Carver parents last year. The father of two said the benefits of the policy – which the school implemented in part to cut down on disciplinary issues – were obvious Monday morning.
“I just feel the demeanor change immediately with these kids coming in in uniforms,” he stated. “The attitude is completely different today.”
Third-year teacher Julie Phillips said she had heard some students complain Monday that the dress code was hampering their self-expression, but that she was pleasantly surprised by how well most students have taken to the new regulations.
“I really like it.,” she remarked. “So far, so good.”
Varsity Cheerleader Keesha Poe, said she believes the policy will cut down on bullying.
“Nobody can bully anybody because they all look the same,” said Poe, a junior. “You can focus more and teachers don’t have to worry about taking kids to the office (for dress code violations).”
While school administrators argued that the dress policy would drastically cut families’ back-to-school shopping bills, Alexus Westberry, 16, said that was not the case for her family. Westberry said it was an added expense for her mother to purchase essentially purchase three new wardrobes for her, her twin bother and their younger sister, a Carver freshman.
Westberry, who plays on the school’s volleyball squad, called the new guidelines too restrictive.
“I feel like we’re being punished,” she commented.
Despite the reluctance of some students to adapt to the changes, Mack, who has spent the past 11 years in education, is expecting good things all year long as a result of the new policy.
“This has been the quietest first day of school I’ve ever been a part of – you can hear a pin drop,” he declared. “Kids don’t want to admit it, but they are conducting themselves very appropriately.”