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Kennett High Student Body President Elizabeth Bouchard says the student council wants to give the “outdated” dress code a makeover. (COURTESY PHOTO)
Kennett High Student Body President Elizabeth Bouchard is seen talking to the Conway School Board on Dec. 10. (LLOYD JONES PHOTO)

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Kennett High Student Body President Elizabeth Bouchard says the student council wants to give the “outdated” dress code a makeover. (COURTESY PHOTO)
Kennett High Student Body President Elizabeth Bouchard is seen talking to the Conway School Board on Dec. 10. (LLOYD JONES PHOTO)
CONWAY — The Kennett High Student Council is looking to bring a more modern dress code to Eagles Way in 2022. Student Body President Elizabeth Bouchard said council members are seeking “something a little brighter and better” than the existing code, which has been in place since 2016 and which many Eagles believe is outdated.
Bouchard, 18, of Conway, said she and other council members met Dec. 10 with Principal Kevin Carpenter and Vice Principal Katy Meserve to discuss the issue. She reported on that meeting to the Conway School Board, which met later that same day.
“Probably our biggest project right now is reworking the dress code,” she told the board. “We met with the policy committee (Dec. 3), to just kind of bounce our ideas back and forth. We gave them our draft of the dress code, which is based on one from Bow High School, and we were given some awesome feedback.”
Bouchard said council members told the policy committee — made up by school board chair Joe Lentini and board members Joe Mosca and Jessica Whitelaw — that the students want hats to be allowed again after the policy was changed a few years ago.”
The last revision to Kennett’s dress code policy took place June 27, 2016.
“All students are expected to be neat and clean,” it said. “All should be modestly dressed in attire appropriate to the classroom. Modesty means that no stomachs, breasts, buttocks, backs or underwear should be shown. This should be true when climbing stairs, sitting at a desk, as well as standing. Garments should not be transparent or sheer without a dress code-appropriate garment underneath.”
Acceptable shirts include “full button-down or polo style shirt, buttoned, sweaters, sweatshirts, turtlenecks, jersey dress shirts or T-shirts; appropriate fit and adherence to modesty as previously defined; covers midriff — must be ‘tuckable’ in length; all tops must be held up by some type of supportive strap or sleeve that holds up the top as well as covers any and all undergarments; all tops must be tight under the armpit; and free from writing or graphics deemed offensive or in violation of school policy.”
Unacceptable garments are listed as: “Sheer (see-through) material; low necklines (cleavage); shirts that hang low under the armpit; visible undergarments; holes, rips, tattered, unsanitary clothes; and tube tops and camisoles.”
For girls, the dress code is as follows: “Dress/khaki pants, jeans, cargo pants, corduroy, shorts and skirts must be modest as previously defined and fall no shorter than mid-thigh; appropriate fit; and free from offensive writing or graphics of any kind.”
Unacceptable are: “Visible undergarments, sheer material; Pants/skirts/shorts worn lower than the hips; unsanitary clothes; holes and rips above mid-thigh; and sweat pajamas.”
“Hoods, hats and sunglasses cannot be worn in any building unless it is attire required as part of a specific program or curriculum,” it says.
In addition, while hats may be worn in hallways, cafeteria and library, “hats will not be allowed to be worn in any classroom or in the auditorium during any class or event. Hats will not cover the wearer’s eyebrows. Hats deeming images or graphics in violation of school policy are not acceptable. Hoods are not acceptable.”
Other issues: “Gang-related apparel, including insignias, bandanas, colors, mottos or symbols, is considered inappropriate for school attire and is prohibited. School administrators have the authority to prohibit any other messages that they determine to be disruptive to the school’s learning environment. At school-sponsored events, students must dress appropriately.”
Lentini agreed with the students that it’s time to revisit the dress code. “I think it’s time to update this,” he told the Sun last Thursday. “We listened to the students, asked a few questions and offered some minor suggestions. I think it just needs to be tightened up. It’s nothing crazy. They put a lot of time and thought into this.”
Lentini added: “We want the students to be involved and standing up for themselves. I think what they’re trying to do is great. It’s their school and we want to her from them.”
Bouchard and her fellow Eagles looked at other dress codes around the region and liked what Bow came up with.
“We found (Bow) had some of the things we really want,” she said by phone on Thursday. “Right now, there’s a lot of disparity on what is appropriate.”
The dress code policy at Bow High School, says, in part: “The student and their parent/guardian hold the primary responsibility in determining the student’s personal attire, hairstyle, jewelry, and personal items (e.g. backpacks, book bags).
“Schools are responsible for assuring that student attire, hairstyle, jewelry, and personal items do not interfere with the health or safety of any student and do not contribute to a hostile or intimidating environment for any student. “We believe that:
• Students should be able to dress and style their hair for school in a manner that expresses their individuality without fear of unnecessary discipline or body shaming.
• Students have the right to be treated equitably. Dress code enforcement will not create disparities, reinforce or increase marginalization of any group, nor will it be more strictly enforced against students because of racial identity, ethnicity, gender identity, gender expression, gender nonconformity, sexual orientation, cultural or religious identity, household income, body size/type, or body maturity.
The student council is trying to develop a dress code that is “more accommodating to body figure and body type,” Bouchard said. “We want to bring more equity and body positivity.”
Asked to elaborate, Bouchard emailed the Sun on Monday: “We are working on changing the dress code from the dated concepts it includes now to something more open in order to create a more comfortable environment for our students
“We are looking to change the dress code to a top, a bottom and something beyond a sock,” she continued. “This dress code helps mitigate the dress coding of bodies rather than dress coding the clothing.”
Bouchard said the meeting with the policy committee went well and came away needing to make a few minor tweaks.
“We are currently working with the administrative board’s policy committee to create this dress code, and their concern was that we had not added back the hat policy that was put in place in 2018. This has now been added, stating that hats are already in the halls and classrooms with teacher discretion.”
She hopes the council can bring a recommendation for a new dress code early in the spring.
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