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Principals say uniforms already making a difference

By STACEY PLAISANCE / L’Observateur / August 31, 1998

Two St. John Parish public schools instituted a mandatory uniform policythis year, and according to the schools’ principals, the transition has been positive.

Garyville/Mt. Airy Math and Science Magnet School was the first publicschool in the parish to adopt the mandatory uniform policy, followed shortly by John L. Ory Elementary. The schools’ principals said the changehas been better than anticipated. Response to the new uniforms was notedin the John L. Ory newsletter.”The use of school uniforms this year is making a difference in the overall attitudes in students. They seem more confident, eager to learn, ready tocome to school and follow rules more readily,” states the newsletter.

John L. Ory Principal Teri Noel said she had concerns that some studentswould come to school not dressed in uniform, but she said every child showed up for school with proper attire.

Families having difficulty supplying uniforms for their children were assisted by the schools. Noel said a family in Grand Isle donated uniformsto be given to Ory students.

“I didn’t believe it would be so easy,” Noel said. “It sends the messagethat this is the expectation, and we feel our students will rise to the challenge.”Both school principals said they have noticed a remarkable difference in the students’ attitudes and their performance.

“The kids are more focussed and more attentive,” said Garyville School Principal Michael Coburn. “It’s raised their self-confidence and schoolspirit.”Self-image is important, and the uniforms have boosted the students’ self-esteem, Coburn said.

“Some of our children didn’t have the same clothes as others, and now the self-esteem and pride is there,” he said. “We needed this for our school.”Coburn also said that academic performance should improve due to the confidence boost induced by the uniform policy.

“Residential students didn’t do as well on tests as magnet school kids, and self-image played a part in this,” he said. “We are now all one, andnow you have to perform at your best. These residential grades willimprove, and there are no more excuses.”Coburn and Noel said parents have been extremely supportive of the uniform policy.

“Parents have been super supportive, and now that they’ve seen this in action, they’re even more supportive,” Coburn said. “The mornings areeasier, too.”The clothing competition is gone, Noel said. “Students seem to hold theirheads higher, and parents are thrilled,” she said.

At both schools, the teachers voluntarily dress in uniform.

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