Muskogee High School considering going to uniforms

Monday, October 25th 1999, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

MUSKOGEE, Okla. (AP) -- School officials plan to try to sell
reluctant students and their parents on the idea of school uniforms
next fall at Muskogee High School.

If there is enough support, Principal Jim Wilson could bring the
idea to the school board.

Uniforms would be an effort to cut down on school violence.
School officials around the country are trying new ideas in the
aftermath of school violence, including shootings at Littleton,
Colo., Jonesboro, Ark., and Conway, Ga.

The idea isn't a new one in Muskogee. After Labor Day, students
at Muskogee's two middle schools began wearing uniforms.

Getting student support may be the difficult part, if reaction
from some freshman students is an indication.

"I think uniforms are the stupidest idea a person could have,"
Aaron Eby told the Muskogee Phoenix. Eby was among several freshmen
who wrote essays on the topic for Tobi Fillman's freshman English

Students said they don't believe instituting uniforms will help
curb school violence.

"I don't think they would solve anything," said freshman
Leslie Geminn.

Leslie's mother, Janna Geminn, doesn't necessarily agree. She
said she thinks the idea is a "pretty big undertaking" and said
she's willing to consider it.

"I'm definitely not opposed to a dress code," said Janna

Uniforms aren't enough to bring change by themselves, said Col.
Daniel Crum, ROTC instructor at MHS.

A conservative dress code, like the khakis and polo shirts being
suggested, needs to be part of a bigger effort, he said.

"We've got to do something to create more respect," said Crum.

Some efforts are already being made in that direction at MHS,
with character education classes and the revival of homecoming.

Character education classes take place every two weeks for
freshmen, sophomores and juniors. In those classes, students learn
about self-awareness and values.

Uniforms and conservative dress codes like those being
considered by MHS can make a school safer, said Michael Stephen
Dorn, school safety specialist with the Georgia Emergency
Management Agency.

Dorn said taking away baggy pants and requiring students to tuck
in shirts makes it easier to spot weapons.

Freshman Nathan Broderick said he isn't sure what effect
uniforms might have, but it might keep people from making fun of
each other as much.

Dorn calls teasing and taunting "triggering behaviors."

Triggering behaviors can lead to more serious incidents, like
fist fights, knifings and shootings. He said minimizing those
triggering behaviors creates a calmer school environment and
decreases violence.