July 28, 2009

New school year, new dress code

By Tajuana Cheshier/ The Jackson Sun, Jackson,Tenn.

On Aug. 5 Jackson-Madison County Schools will begin the school year with a full day of classes and a new dress code.

Superintendent Nancy Zambito on Monday said principals will receive a list of guidelines for addressing violations of the dress code this week.

Students are expected to be in dress code on the first day of classes.

Some parents already have bought clothes for their children, and others are either waiting on Tennessee’s annual tax-free holiday or are still in search of the right sizes.

A mother of two children, Kimberly Loucks credits the dress code, which eliminates denim and limits students to three shirt colors and khaki or navy pants, as a help to her wallet.

“I’ve probably spent $200 less on school clothes this year than I have for all the other years,”Loucks said. “I don’t think my children like the new dress code, but when it comes to paying for the clothes, I think it’s great.”

Loucks’ two children - 9-year-old Josie, a fifth-grader at East Intermediate, and Eli, 13, an eighth-grader at Northeast Middle - had mixed reactions about the dress code.

“People can’t tease you about your clothes anymore because we’ll all look the same,” Eli said.

“I’m going to miss wearing jeans, though.”

Josie is excited about returning to school and her school's designated shirt color.

“I like royal blue,” Josie said. “I’m excited to carry my new backpack. It has my initials on it, and it’s royal blue."

Phyllis Chism has two sons at Jackson Central-Merry High School and approved of the dress code’s new rules.

“They’d rather be able to wear what they want, but I’ve explained to them that a lot of jobs require company uniforms and this is getting them ready,” Chism said. “I told them that when they're not in school, they can put on what they want, but education comes first.”
Chism hasn’t yet purchased new clothes for her sons.

“I’m waiting on the tax holiday,” she said. “They have enough clothes to make it until then.”
Brenda Brooks has had trouble finding clothes for her daughter, a JCM senior.

She left a store frustrated on Monday because she couldn’t find the right sizes.
“I’ve been trying to find these clothes for three weeks,” Brooks said. “The school system should have had a shop where parents could come and get the clothes.”

Brooks doesn’t approve of the dress code changes.

“Clothes don’t have anything to do with what’s going on in their brains,” she said. “;They should be able to wear what they want.”

Many stores in Jackson are advertising that they carry Jackson-Madison County School System-approved dress code items, including Looking Good & Stylz.

Owner Reginald Hobson said he is offering a two shirts and two pants sale for $39 with a wide range of sizes.

But because his business specializes in hip–hop fashions, Hobson said he wants to attract customers into his store to purchase after-school clothes as well.

“I think we’re seeing the results of our advertising,” he said.
According to the Web site FrenchToast.com, Kmart is a location that also is selling Jackson-Madison County School uniforms.
Zambito also has encouraged families to shop in area thrift stores such as the Regional Inter-Faith Association and Goodwill for inexpensive school clothes.
Rosa Love was accustomed to helping her daughter pay for school clothes for her three grandchildren.

But she was relieved to learn on Monday that her daughter wouldn’t need her help this year.
“She can afford it, and the dress code helps,” Love said.“I think it's wonderful.”;
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