Bremerton schools institute dress code

Bremerton students have altered their fashions to reflect the new dress code at the high school.  - Photo by Jesse Beals
Bremerton students have altered their fashions to reflect the new dress code at the high school.
— image credit: Photo by Jesse Beals

Bremerton High School has a new look.

Not the building itself, that is still two years away.

But when the school year got underway last week, students had some more guidelines to determine what back-to-school fashions they would sport.

The new dress code at BHS has been a positive experience in the eyes of principal Aaron Leavell.

“Kids responded way above what I expected on the dress code,” Leavell said. “They transitioned very nicely and very well. The atmosphere seems to have improved.”

A change of atmosphere was the main thing the dress code sought.

“We just wanted to create a more professional learning community among staff and students,” Leavell said. “We want the focus to be on learning, not what is or isn’t in style.”

Leavell said the committee in charge of coming up with the dress code heard the idea of uniforms from a few parents, “but the idea never really got off the ground.”

The code bans hats, hoods and other headwear with consideration for specific religious exemptions, spaghetti straps, bared midriffs and skirts that fail to extend past a young lady’s fingertips when her arms are at her sides.

It is the headwear that may cause teachers and administrators fits in enforcing.

“Hats are going to be our most difficult thing to accomplish with students,” Leavell said. “For one thing, it’s just habit.”

Cassie, a sophomore at BHS, said she was disappointed in the hat part of the rule.

“Since middle school, they’ve been telling us we could wear bandanas and hats once we got to high school,” she said. “So much for that.”

Junior Miles Hicks thinks the code should be more limited.

“I think as long as people ain’t feeling threatened, we should be able to wear what we want,” Hicks said. “Let’s be kids while we can. When we graduate, we’re gonna have to wear suits and shiny shoes.”

Shawn Turner, an eleventh grader, is wearing a band T-shirt in protest.

“I’m not supposed to be wearing my Insane Clown Posse shirt because it’s a gang symbol in some other state,” he explained. “To us, it’s just a band me and my friends like.”

Leavell admits that, as expected, some students have found ways to exploit loopholes the code does not distinctly address.

“Trenchcoats, flip-flops, certain things didn’t make the list,” Leavell said. “The committee is still there to go back and review certain things.”

Leavell said other administrators in the district have been pleased with BHS leading the way on the issue of dress. He said Naval Avenue Elementary has already decided to adopt the high school policy as its own.

“I just want to thank the staff members, parents and students on the committee for the success,” he said. “We have strong student leadership in place this year. It’s important because we need student involvement to make it work.”

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