School Uniforms Working at John Hay

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When the John Hay School in University Circle reopened last year as three smaller schools in one, planners made it a priority that the students have a dress code.

Kenneth Hale: I think the dress code or uniform helps keep the focus on learning and academics.

Kenneth Hale is the deputy campus administrator at John Hay Campus. And students I talked with at John Hay agreed that their dress code is a good thing. Adriana Stevens is a senior at the early college high school at John Hay, and she says the dress code has its benefits.

Adriana Stevens: When I wake up in the morning, I don't necessarily have to think about what I'm going to put on.

But it's more than just convenience, Stevens thinks it prepares students for adult life.

Adriana Stevens: It shows a sense of professionalism, so when you get ready for a job interview, you're already prepared - you already know how to dress how to dress for an interview, and that just puts you five steps ahead of someone who does not know how to dress for one.

The students wore collars and nice pants with belts. Some of the boys sported ties. No baggy jeans down to the knees here. Architecture and Design Freshman Aneal Collins thinks students throughout the district should wear a uniform, even if it's not always what they may want to wear.

Aneal Collins: I don't like tucking in my shirt, but I just do it because it's not going to hurt if I tuck it in.

The students were also not too worried about uniforms or a dress code stifling freedom of expression. But Freshman Milo Miner is not sure about the argument often made by officials that uniforms make students more serious in the classroom.

Milo Miner: I don't think dress code really has anything to do with our learning abilities.

Cleveland Schools CEO Eugene Sanders is making uniforms the first step in his plans for the district. Junior Stacy Cerone thinks the district has more pressing priorities.

Stacy Cerone: I think we need more books and stuff like that first. And then worry about dress code.

Sanders plans go far beyond dress codes and school uniforms and include the introduction of single-sex schools and boarding schools for at-risk teens. If he gets his way, students may have far more choices in the schools they attend - if not what they wear. Dan Bobkoff, 90.3.

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