More uniforms coming

Published 9:23 pm Thursday, May 21, 2009

Jemison Middle School students will be required to wear school uniforms starting this fall, per a resolution of the Chilton County Board of Education.

JMS Principal Mark Knight wants to implement a uniform policy for several reasons, which include but are not limited to appearance.

Not only would uniforms eliminate items like saggy pants and midriff blouses, Knight said, but they could also serve to instill more of a sense of pride.

“I’ve talked to some principals in other school systems, and they said discipline problems went down the first couple of years after they went to uniforms,” Knight said.

Jemison Middle would be the second school in Chilton County to require uniforms. Jemison High School did a pilot program in 2007 and made uniforms a regular part of the dress code in 2008.

“It has been great,” JHS Principal Alan Thompson said. “Everybody is equal, plus the kids just look nice. When they’re dressed up, they expect to act better.”

Thompson said he can even see a difference when the students “dress down” on Fridays, when they have the option of wearing plain blue jeans and school sponsored T-shirts.

From Monday through Thursday, required dress includes khaki, navy or black pants with white, gray or navy shirts. The shirts must be solid with a collar. Shirts also must be tucked in, and belts are required depending on the type of pants.

Skirts or shorts must touch the knee, and layers worn in cold weather must be solids of the same color.

Both principals agree that uniforms are relatively inexpensive. A company that offers low-end products sends representatives to the high school to take orders.

A student should be able to purchase a week’s worth of uniforms for less than $150, Knight estimated.

“I think the cost of a uniform is cheaper than the stylish clothes they buy now,” he said.

Initially, the middle school will adopt a policy similar to that used by the high school, except Knight is not in favor of dressing down on Fridays.

Thompson liked the idea of using the same policy at both schools.

“Eighth graders who buy them this year will be able to wear them next year,” Thompson said.

While some students have shown opposition to uniforms, primarily because they want more variety in dress options, most parents seem to be in favor.

“I had a lot of parents that called me, and all of them were in favor,” Knight said.