Students dressup to avoid being dressed down

By Ryn Gargulinski: Quay County Sun

Tucumcari High School ninth-grader Will Bason said he was once reprimanded for showing up for class in a shirt with a picture of a horse above his left arm.

“They (school officials) said it was gang related,” Bason said, noting he was not sent home but told if he ever wore it again, “I’d be in pretty deep trouble.”

“I think it’s a little bit too strict,” he said. “It starts to get ridiculous.”

But school officials said they want to work with the students and parents — not against them — on dress codes, perhaps enacting not a school uniform but a “uniform dress policy” that could include something like white shirts and black pants.

As it stands, the school’s dress code is dappled with a disclaimer that forbids “anything disruptive or that’s a distraction.” Officials said this includes facial piercings, anything that could be considered gang related or leather belts adorned with bullets, among other things.

“We need to stress that disclaimer,” said Middle School Principal Roberta Segura.

A copy of the dress code is sent home with students twice a year to share with their parents.

“Kids will push it to the nth degree,” said Superintendent William Reents, adding one of this year’s arguments included blue jeans. He said the policy states no jeans with holes can be worn, but students were showing up with jeans that were heavily frayed, just waiting to rip, he said.

“It would take one little finger to make it into a hole,” he said.

High School Principal Susan Montoya said precious time is being wasted on such nuances.

“We should be spending time on instruction,” Montoya said, “not on a dress code.”

In addition to a distraction, Tucumcari Elementary School Principal Theresa Salazar said some clothes could be downright dangerous, like cargo pants.

Based on a police video school official viewed, Salazar said they were amazed at the number of weapons that could be concealed in the cargo pants’ myriad pockets.

“Since the styles are changing, it’s helping us a lot,” Salazar said, pointing out fashions like the teeny midriff tops a la Brittney Spears are now passé.

Not that the elementary school has had severe problems with the code, she said, but a uniform dress starting early in the school system would prepare the kids for how they would be expected to dress for their entire Tucumcari school career.

Officials said the best way for parents to voice their opinions on the matter would be to write a letter to Reents, who said they tried holding forums on the issue in the past, but nothing was ever resolved and they are still spending too much time on the issue.

What did ninth-grader Bason have to say about the idea of wearing a white shirt with black pants to school every day?

“That would be really, really annoying,” said the freshman who lives in jeans and work shirts at home on the range. “It would be like dressing up for a job almost.”