By Jenna Ebersole
The community must come together to ease the possible transition to standardized dress at Pocono Mountain School District, parents said Thursday.
Officials working on a standardized dress proposal that could go into effect in the 2014-15 school year met with parents Wednesday and Thursday nights on ways to make the change smoother.
Several mothers said they had experience with standard dress at Catholic schools and offered ideas for how the system could operate at Pocono Mountain.
Pocono Mountain Academy Principal Jessica Wenton said the idea is still in its infancy.
She said she will be developing a survey that could ask whether students should be allowed to wear khaki pants and skirts or khaki and black, whether all polo or oxford shirts should be one color or color-coded for different schools within the district and what kind of shoes should be allowed.
One problem with confining East and West to their respective colors could be with students who might move and be forced to buy new clothes, Wenton said.
"The earlier we would know what it would look like, the easier it would be to prepare," Wenton said.
Parents said students could be rewarded with casual days for things like full attendance or wearing standard dress before the official start date, rather than the district emphasizing enforcement.
Christine Dunham, who has grandchildren at the district, said a fashion show for students could give them a chance to embrace the change.
"There's a lot of very positive spins that they put on all of it," she said of other schools that have standard dress.
But one mother said she is a single mom whose son will be a senior next year. Buying a new wardrobe for one school year would be a hardship.
Other parents responded that with exchanges or "closets" set up at several schools, students who have outgrown clothing can donate it for other students to pick up for free.
Wenton said a committee has considered the hardship for seniors, but the hope is to be able to get donations from vendors to help at least until the recycling of clothing starts.
As a principal, Wenton said the dress issue now is time-consuming.
Sometimes, the first few hours of the school day can be spent picking out students from the crowd to talk to about pulling up their pants, handing them something more appropriate to wear or calling parents who may not see their children's outfits as a problem.
Wenton said many students she's talked to say they knew the change was coming, but transitions are difficult and the district has seen many over the last few years.
"Change is really hard, no matter what you're doing," she said.