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Looking the part: Clearwater High students comply with new dress code

From left, Laquinta Hardy, 15; James Tanton, Margaret Bello, Reed Avers and Nicole Allen, all 17, had no trouble falling in line with the new Tornado dress code on Monday.

JIM DAMASKE | Times

From left, Laquinta Hardy, 15; James Tanton, Margaret Bello, Reed Avers and Nicole Allen, all 17, had no trouble falling in line with the new Tornado dress code on Monday.

CLEARWATER — About two dozen students didn't follow Clearwater High School's new modified dress code on Monday.

But about 2,000 others did, making the first day of the school year for the Tornadoes a roaring success.

"It's been a great day," said principal Keith Mastorides. "The tone on campus this morning was very positive and calm — and we're hoping that will continue."

Last spring, parents voted in favor of what is considered the strictest dress code for a public high school in Pinellas County.

Under the new rules, students can wear polo and dress shirts and blouses in solid colors of red, white, gray or black, to reflect the school's colors. Official Clearwater High T-shirts are also permitted.

Pants, shorts and skirts may be black, khaki or gray, and must be worn up to the waist and down to the knee. Jeans are fine as long as they are neat and not torn.

Gone are hoodies, nonschool T-shirts, bare midriffs, torn pants, shorts and skirts above the knee, bedroom slippers and pajamas, which were often accompanied with a blanket for that "just rolled out of bed look." Cleavage and underwear cannot be visible.

Mastorides said the dress code goes hand in hand with the school's new "wall to wall" academy model that will help prepare students for the professional world by offering industry certification in four areas: business and international studies; technology, math and engineering; arts and media; and sports and recreation.

"It's all about teaching the kids to dress for success — teaching them to dress for the real world," he said.

On Monday, no one was sent home for a dress code violation, according to Mastorides. Rather, they were handed Clearwater High T-shirts or their parents were called to bring in clothes. The school's PTA and the Clothes To Kids organization are standing by to help those in need meet the new requirements.

Laquinta Hardy, 15, said some of her friends were mad about the new rules at first, but they've since come around. She couldn't wait for the first day of school "to see how people are wearing their new 'uniforms,' " she said.

The school day started with an MTV-like video created by students, available to watch on YouTube at tinyurl.com/8fwg6uu.

It features students dressed in red, white, gray or black driving convertibles of the same colors. A rap promotes the benefits of the new code.

Reed Avers, 17, used to wear basketball shorts to school. On this day though, he was wearing khaki shorts — with the required belt.

"They're comfortable but not as comfortable as the gym shorts," he said. "It's really not that bad of a dress code. It shows that the staff cares about us and wants us to be successful."

Although not required, many of the staff and teachers also followed suit.

Nicole Allen, 17, likes the stricter rules. No longer is she faced with agonizing decisions about what to wear.

"It cuts a lot of time in the morning so I can sleep longer," she said.

Others wished there were more color and pattern options — and they'll miss their hoodies — but in general, they seemed satisfied.

Margaret Bello, 17, took advantage of the fact that there are no rules against belts, scarves, jewelry and other accessories. She wore an orange tie belt wrapped around her white blouse for "a little splash of color."

James Tanton, 17, a football player, predicted the code will promote school pride and make the school less divisive.

"It's a uniform dress code for a uniform student body," he said.

Mom Missy Russell said she has supported the new dress code from the beginning.

"As a parent it makes getting up in the morning much easier. We save time and get to sleep in a little longer. There's no arguing. Less frustration. It's easier on the shopping and much better on the budget."

She sensed a positive buzz in the hallways on Monday morning.

"It's nice to walk down the halls and see everyone look like they are a part of the school," she said.

Terri Bryce Reeves can be reached at treeves@tampabay.rr.com. To write a letter to the editor, go to tampabay.com/letters.

CLEARWATER — About two dozen students didn't follow Clearwater High School's new modified dress code on Monday.

But about 2,000 others did, making the first day of the school year for the Tornadoes a roaring success.

"It's been a great day," said principal Keith Mastorides. "The tone on campus this morning was very positive and calm — and we're hoping that will continue."

Last spring, parents voted in favor of what is considered the strictest dress code for a public high school in Pinellas County.

Under the new rules, students can wear polo and dress shirts and blouses in solid colors of red, white, gray or black, to reflect the school's colors. Official Clearwater High T-shirts are also permitted.

Pants, shorts and skirts may be black, khaki or gray, and must be worn up to the waist and down to the knee. Jeans are fine as long as they are neat and not torn.

Gone are hoodies, nonschool T-shirts, bare midriffs, torn pants, shorts and skirts above the knee, bedroom slippers and pajamas, which were often accompanied with a blanket for that "just rolled out of bed look." Cleavage and underwear cannot be visible.

Mastorides said the dress code goes hand in hand with the school's new "wall to wall" academy model that will help prepare students for the professional world by offering industry certification in four areas: business and international studies; technology, math and engineering; arts and media; and sports and recreation.

"It's all about teaching the kids to dress for success — teaching them to dress for the real world," he said.

On Monday, no one was sent home for a dress code violation, according to Mastorides. Rather, they were handed Clearwater High T-shirts or their parents were called to bring in clothes. The school's PTA and the Clothes To Kids organization are standing by to help those in need meet the new requirements.

Laquinta Hardy, 15, said some of her friends were mad about the new rules at first, but they've since come around. She couldn't wait for the first day of school "to see how people are wearing their new 'uniforms,' " she said.

The school day started with an MTV-like video created by students, available to watch on YouTube at tinyurl.com/8fwg6uu.

It features students dressed in red, white, gray or black driving convertibles of the same colors. A rap promotes the benefits of the new code.

Reed Avers, 17, used to wear basketball shorts to school. On this day though, he was wearing khaki shorts — with the required belt.

"They're comfortable but not as comfortable as the gym shorts," he said. "It's really not that bad of a dress code. It shows that the staff cares about us and wants us to be successful."

Although not required, many of the staff and teachers also followed suit.

Nicole Allen, 17, likes the stricter rules. No longer is she faced with agonizing decisions about what to wear.

"It cuts a lot of time in the morning so I can sleep longer," she said.

Others wished there were more color and pattern options — and they'll miss their hoodies — but in general, they seemed satisfied.

Margaret Bello, 17, took advantage of the fact that there are no rules against belts, scarves, jewelry and other accessories. She wore an orange tie belt wrapped around her white blouse for "a little splash of color."

James Tanton, 17, a football player, predicted the code will promote school pride and make the school less divisive.

"It's a uniform dress code for a uniform student body," he said.

Mom Missy Russell said she has supported the new dress code from the beginning.

"As a parent it makes getting up in the morning much easier. We save time and get to sleep in a little longer. There's no arguing. Less frustration. It's easier on the shopping and much better on the budget."

She sensed a positive buzz in the hallways on Monday morning.

"It's nice to walk down the halls and see everyone look like they are a part of the school," she said.

Terri Bryce Reeves can be reached at treeves@tampabay.rr.com. To write a letter to the editor, go to tampabay.com/letters.

Looking the part: Clearwater High students comply with new dress code 08/21/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 21, 2012 7:20pm]
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