By Johnny Jackson
Area school administrators are waiting to see if an increasingly popular fashion, known as Silly Bandz, will cause major distractions in the classroom.
Brand new fashions have tended to reach their peak popularity about a year or so into their emergence as the trendy accessory of the time, according to Virgil Cole, principal of East Lake Elementary School in McDonough.
"It's amazing, you see it kind of mushrooms out," said Cole.
The principal said the sudden emergence of one trendy product or another in schools is not unusual. He began noticing Silly Bandz during the middle of last school year.
Cole said that only a few products, over the years, have caused large enough distractions to prompt him to take administrative action, such as contacting parents and discouraging students from bringing a product to school. He said previous products included skate shoes, for safety reasons, and trading cards, which distracted students.
Silly Bandz are the product of the moment, earning a faithful following among young people and adults alike. The product -- which comes in packs of 12 and 24 -- is a rubber bracelet, in various shapes, made of 100 percent medical-grade silicon, said Jonathan Anderson, a product manager with Silly Bandz and BCP Imports LLC, of Toledo, Ohio.
"We don't think it's reached its peak, yet," said Anderson. He added that the product was launched in late 2007.
Anderson noted that the product, sold at major retailers, has a demographic that spans from 6-year-olds to middle-aged adults. Its largest demographic group is children, ages 6-15, who collect and trade them.
"We just think it's a cool product that the kids love to collect," he said. "[And] we launch new shapes every month or so."
Silly Bandz products have expanded to 12 countries, according to Anderson. "We're starting to get really big in Europe," he continued. "We're finding a lot of schools and non-profits are creating Silly Bandz to help raise money for their various organizations.
Pokemon trading cards were the popular product among students at Eagle's Landing Middle School about four years ago, according to Eagle's Landing Principal Jim Davis. Davis said the trading-card craze has diminished over the years, tapering off mostly as students got older at the school of 900 sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-graders.
Such matters are typically handled by school administrators, as outlined in the school system's elementary and secondary handbooks, according to Tony Pickett, Henry County Schools' executive assistant to the Office of the Superintendent.
Pickett said the school system's Code of Conduct prohibits "possessing, using, selling, buying, giving away, bartering, or exchanging any material, substance, food item, or personal belonging that is inappropriate for school, including over-the-counter medication, without the consent of the principal ..."
Silly Bandz may have yet to reach its peak popularity, according to Principal Cole. "It has not been a problem, yet," he said. "I think it's fine, if you want your child to experience these types of things. But let them know not to let it interfere with their education."