Make it uniform

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 25, 2004

The Southern Yankee by Sue Ellen Ross

The big yellow buses are rolling again as the children of St. John Parish are back at the books. For those who have grown children, this time of year may bring back fond memories of scared kindergartners on their first day or panicked students that forgot some school supply.

These were my first thoughts as I recently visited some of the schools during the first week of classes. I noted that once those 5- and 6-year-old kids saw that the classroom was a friendly place where they would make new friends, they relaxed and enjoyed themselves. Eager to learn, not only academically, but socially as well.

I also noted that all students wore uniform clothing. What a novel idea. Back in my hometown, the only uniform-wearing students are those attending the private catholic schools.

My grandchildren wear regular street clothes to public schools each day, and I know what a strain this puts on the clothing budget every school year. I would like to see the uniform idea catch on at their schools.

It would avoid situations where kids are judged by what they wear to class, as evidenced by a scenario that took place when my daughter was in elementary school.

Although my children are both good-natured and very talkative (wonder where they got that from?), some of their friends were very shy. I was so proud of my daughter the day she invited a new school friend to the house and was giving her advice on adapting to her new school.

The little girl’s family had just moved from another state and this was the third school she had attended in the past three years. She was only 10 years old. She had enough to deal with, and shouldn’t have had to worry about the type of clothing she was wearing.

My talkative daughter befriended the little girl, after noticing that other classmates were making some not-so-kind remarks about her clothing.

It seems the little girl wasn’t wearing designer jeans (yes, the little ones had to have those, even back in the day,) and her jacket wasn’t the stone-washed denim kind that all the kids were wearing.

No matter. Wendy liked her just the same, and offered to lend her some of her jeans (unbeknownst to me.) They became good friends. Even the Gloria Vanderbilt-jeans crowd accepted her, once they saw she was a fun person. But I think this story may be the exception.

I know I don’t write for my hometown newspaper anymore, but I did build up a good rapport with members of the school administration. I am curious to know if the uniform idea has crossed their minds. Maybe I will give them a few thoughts of my own while I am in Indiana this week.