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Supplies and demands

Many school supply lists require students to purchase specific brands: Crayola, Bic and Elmer's to name a few. But critics would prefer to keep things more generic.

Children in first grade at Claywell Elementary are required to have a 24-count box of crayons _ Crayola, please. They'll also need a bottle of glue _ make that Elmer's glue. And what about that old standby, the Trapper Keeper? The kids will have to leave it at home.

Like many other schools throughout the area, Claywell has sent home a supply list that asks students to bring many brand-name products to school. The lists also restrict certain items, such as Trapper Keepers and suitcases on wheels.

"When a specific brand is requested, please observe," instructs the Schwarzkopf Elementary supply list. Several elementary schools list products such as Kleenex brand tissues, Crayola markers and crayons, Fiskar brand scissors, Bic pens, Mead notebooks and Elmer's glue.

Claywell principal Glenda Midili said that maybe the school shouldn't ask for specific brands. But she said there are good reasons for teachers to request brand names: They tend to be higher quality than some generic items and lesser-known brands.

"Those are the ones that have proven to last," she said. "There's some glue that just does not stick," she said, and it can be upsetting to a young child whose art project doesn't stay together.

She pointed out that while the lists request some brand-name items, teachers probably wouldn't mind if students brought in a generic box of crayons or store-brand tissues.

Still, an organization that monitors commercialism in schools objects to the supply lists.

"It's really giving the impression that the school system is endorsing those products," said Andrew Hagelshaw, senior program director for the Center for Commercial-Free Public Education.

Some area schools don't ask for any specific brand names, and others ask for one or two. Cannella Elementary, for instance, mentions only one brand name on its supply list _ Crayola washable markers for first-grade students. Other items are listed generically: white school glue, box of 24 crayons, broad-tip markers.

As for the banned items, Midili and other principals said there just isn't room.

Trapper Keepers and other triple-fold binders are simply too big to fit in students' desks, and there isn't room for students to store suitcases and other hard-bound bags in the classrooms.