Mt. Zion makes a fashion statement

By Trina Trice

When Mt. Zion High School students returned to school this month, they figured it would be business as usual.

There has been a change, though, and it's for their own good, says Mt. Zion High School Principal Don Stout.

Students, both boys and girls, can no longer dress in the ultra-baggy fashion made popular by hip-hop artists in music videos.

Stout is requiring that all students wear their shirts tucked into pants and skirts so that the waist and pockets are visible.

Students found out about the new rule via a videotape shown in homeroom Aug. 25, that demonstrated the right and wrong way to wear their clothes.

"We live in a dangerous society," Stout said. "We have a lot of students in our school that we'd be na?ve to think that they don't have access to weapons and na?ve to believe they don't enter the school (with weapons).

"This has nothing to do with fashion," Stout continued. "All we're saying is we want to see your waistband. I told them at 3:20 (when school ends) you can snatch that shirt out. This is not something we're doing to you, but something for you."

Students aren't too keen on the new dress code, though.

Seniors Cimone Hill and Terrell Bearfield don't think it's fair, they said. Like many students, as soon as he walks out of school Bearfield pulls his shirt out of pants.

What Bearfield dislikes the most about the new rule is that "if you have your pants down one inch, you get suspended."

Stout doesn't think the new dress code is too much to ask for, nor do most parents, he said.

Pam Jackson, a mother of a Mt. Zion High School ninth grader, thinks it's okay.

"I don't like the boys' (pants) saggy," she said. "Some shirt styles for girls you have to wear them out. But it's the rule. You never know what they have under there, so you can never be too careful."

That's the point Stout is trying to make to students, staff and parents.

"Our ultimate purpose here is not to raise college students or to raise SAT scores, it's to help make students grow as productive, successful citizens," he said. "I know this makes us safer. If I had the ability to do something that makes us safer, and I don't, what would that say about me? I have to do what I can."

Approximately 40 students have been suspended since the new rule was instituted.