By Derek Babcock

I’m a graduate of the North Chicago Community High School class of 2002 and recently the paper has been publicizing about a dress code policy, and I would like to voice my opinion as a past student who also wore a heavily enforced dress code.

It actually started my sophomore year in high school, and I voiced my opinion as “The dress code takes away from individuality,” as “You’re taking away our freedom of dress,” and a few others that I’m positive the students here in Anderson are also voicing out. The truth is simple. You make the clothes, the clothes don’t make you. The students are their own people in the fancy cloths or in the scrub cloths. The students will still be shy, outgoing, funny, loud, mean, flirty, etc... So why debate the dress code. Just enforce it, the results are real.

My school was about 80 percent African-American, then it broke down from there between Hispanic, Asian and the Caucasian. This was the school’s problem, violence, drugs, gangs, failing out of school, just to name a few. However, the dress code helped here. Most of those who wouldn’t comply with the dress code were not allowed into the building, not to mention those few were some of the star troublemakers. Eventually those few became none, as we no longer saw their what was a familiar face. Then we noticed an increase in academic scores, granted it was not much, but every little percent counts. Then we noticed a complete change, students interacting better.

The student body actually showing appreciation, and an urgency to learn and move on to bigger, and better things which were finally becoming and option. Honestly, to poor kids who grow up in the ghetto where your school has a barbed wire fence surrounding it, metal detectors inside, then a police officer or security guard wanding you, while your personal belongings were being checked it helped them to see a better life, as it did for me as well.

Now for the parents’ side who don’t want to pay for the clothing, because it’s an extra expense that they’ll have to pay for. Well, guess what, by this time these students are what 15, 16, 17? Come on, you can’t baby them forever, otherwise they stay around. Make them get a job, make them pay for their own clothes. If they want them, believe me they will pay for the clothes themselves. I know I did, along with many of my other classmates, because I too wasn’t one of the richer kids, but that’s beside the point, the point is, this generation is lazy, and you parents don’t help the situation by not forcing the real world onto your children. They are after all your responsibility, and what will they learn if you do everything for them?

And for the teachers who think it’s crazy, just because you, yourself don’t want to be forced to dress better, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. You are supposed to be an idol, a person, a friend, and someone the kids are supposed to be able to reach out to when they have nowhere else to go. So go along with it, and help the policy by enforcing the policy. Don’t slack, because what are you teaching your students? Not much other than you can slack and get away with it, even if it is at your job.

And another thing, do most jobs not require a dress code? Mine does. I am an assistant manager of a Tire Barn retailer, and guess what, I’m in a uniform day in, and day out. So honestly getting used to it now is much easier than getting used to it later.

If nothing is taken from this at least let it be known, “You are you, no matter what you decide to wear.”

Derek Babcock is an Anderson resident.

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