October School Board Meeting Minutes; Student Reps advocate for dress code changes

On Tuesday, Oct. 12, the Kemmerer school board met for their monthly meeting. Items on the agenda included recognizing students of the month, approving the employment of a new bus driver and the first reading from a group of students from Kemmerer Junior Senior High School about a proposed revision to the existing dress code.

Proceeding out of order, the board decided to allow the students in attendance to speak first, rather than have them sit through the rest of the proceedings. The students, all student body representatives in some fashion and sponsored by teacher Jennifer Nielson, stood to the side of the room as student body president Olivia Nielson spoke for the group.

“Our big concern with the dress code is that times are changing and evolving, and we feel that the dress code needs to as well,” Nielson said.

She continued on, citing specific examples about revising the current policy on leggings, shorts and ripped jeans.

“For example, our current dress code states that leggings are acceptable as long as the shirt worn is at most 5 inches above the kneecap.”

But updating parts of the dress code was not the only thing that the students had in mind at tonight’s meeting.

“We would also like to suggest a stricter dance dress code. The student council would like to make it a standard at our school dances for students to dress in their best attire. Although we understand that our student body’s interpretation of best attire varies, we are suggesting that the minimum requirement be formal,” Nielson said.

The students were also prepared enough to head off many questions from board members by specifying exactly what they meant by formal.

“For example, at minimum, we would like the boys to wear a nice button-up shirt, with their best pair of jeans. To be more specific, jeans should not have holes or be covered in different substances, such as oil or paint…we would also like the handbook to mention that ballcaps are not allowed,” Nielson said.

Nielson also proposed that the current stipulations for dresses be overhauled, citing the growing trend in girls being unable to find dresses that fully cover them, to allow girls to wear a two-piece dress, so long as the gap between the pieces is less than two inches.

After Nielson had finished speaking, the board began questioning various aspects of the proposal. One common concern was the availability of acquiring formal wear for students who might not be able to afford them. However, there seemed to be a general consensus among the students, teachers and staff present that they would make every effort to make sure every student who wished to attend one of these dances have the means to do so. While there was no concrete solution accepted at that time, several suggestions were fielded that may later coalesce into a tangible policy.

The students also assured board members that there would be a degree of student self-policing going on at the more formal events. They also recognized that they needed to specify which dances will require formal attire, such as prom, and which will not, such as the Sadie Hawkins dance.

A final question was also asked, regarding Nielson’s feelings about the entirely hypothetical adoption of a dress uniform.

“I think in this generation I think it’s about feeling good about yourself, and I think the best way to feel good about yourself is with your own clothes, your own style,” he said.

After the students had finished answering all of the board’s questions, they departed with a great deal of praise and applause from those present. With the first reading of their proposal complete, some or all of the student representatives will return for the November and December board meetings for the second and third readings, where it will then be up for a vote by the board.

Then, the board returned to regular business, with the main remaining piece on the agenda involving the appointment of a representative to attend the annual Wyoming School Board Association meeting in Casper on Nov. 17. There was good cheer in the room as board members unanimously appointed board member Brad Grandy as their acting representative. However, no proposed resolutions for that annual meeting were brought up. Rather, it was decided that discussion of those items would take place in the November meeting.

In looking back at the efforts of the students who spoke earlier that night, superintendent Teresa Chaulk shared her own thoughts and impressions with the Gazette.

“I thought student council did an excellent job, and I liked the fact that they would like to have a prom and homecoming dress code…I thought they were real thoughtful in how they addressed it [the dress code],” Chaulk said.

What are your thoughts on school dress codes? Share your thoughts at [email protected]


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