You call that a uniform?



by Christopher Paslay


I went to 12 years of Catholic school, so when I read Monica Yant Kinney’s recent article, Here, uniformity just might not fit, I had to chuckle. 


The golf shirts and khaki bottoms required at Friendship Elementary School in Chester County is a sad idea of a uniform, if you want to know the truth.  The trio of suburban moms who feel the policy violates freedom of choice and only serves to pacify adults who “crave conformity” need to pay a visit to a parochial school to get some perspective on the situation. 


Golf shirts and khaki pants?  Please.  For one week, these malcontented mothers should have their daughters wear a white blouse, plaid skirt, black dress shoes with knee-high socks.  While they’re at it, their sons could slip on a school blazer and tie (both with emblem), a pair of ironed dress slacks, belt, dress shirt, black socks and shoes. 


Then maybe they’d get the idea of what a uniform actually is


The Philadelphia School District has a uniform policy, but this too is a bit of a travesty, at least at the high school level.  If kids actually wore the required dress, it might be respectable.  But when the weather gets hot, like it’s getting now, there’s nothing uniform about students’ uniforms.    


Here are 10 ways enterprising Philadelphia teens manipulate the dress code and wear—or should I say don’t wear—their navy blue golf shirts.


1.  “Hulk Hogan” style.  This is when the student rips the collar completely off the shirt, tears open the sleeves at the seams, and lets the uniform hang off his body like a poncho. 


2.  “Hanging-Around-the-Neck” style.  This is self explanatory, and is achieved when the student puts his head through the neck hole of the shirt, but for some unknown reason fails to put his arms through the sleeves, thus turning the shirt into a giant navy blue necklace.


3.  “Under-the-Jacket” style.  This is when the student buys a bag of Doritos in the lunch room instead of going to his locker in the morning, forcing the student to wear his jacket over his uniform for the remainder of the day.  The number of students who practice the “Under-the-Jacket” style is directly proportional to the number of students who complain that classrooms are “too hot”. 


4.  “Book Bag” style.  This is when the student doesn’t wear the uniform at all, but keeps it in his book bag.  When he gets to class and the teacher asks, “Where’s your uniform?” the student opens his book bag and flashes the shirt like an ID badge, insisting that doing so keeps him in compliance with the school dress code.


5.  “Beach Towel” style.  This is when the student slings his uniform over his shoulder like a beach towel.  Sun tan lotion is optional.


6.  “Turban” style.  Yes, you got it.  Instead of putting the shirt on, the student wraps it around his head.


7.  “Ninja” style.  This is just like wearing the uniform “Turban” style, except the student wraps the shirt around his face, not his head.  This is the preferred style when copping Z’s in class.


8.  “Superman” style.  No red “S” here, but there is a blue cape.  This style involves draping the uniform down the middle of the student’s back.       


9.  “Grease Rag” style.  Two words:  back pocket.  This style goes well with students enrolled in CTE automotive programs.


10.  “Slap-and-Tickle” style.  Instead of wearing the golf shirt the student twists it into a cloth whip, wets the end of the whip in the nearest water fountain, and chases other students down the hall, whacking them on the backside. 


When the warm weather hits, it seems like many Philadelphia teens adopt the attitude expressed by Tommy Chong in Cheech and Chong’s Up in Smoke: “If we’re gonna wear uniforms, man, we should all wear something different.” 


I just wish my second grade teacher, Sister Paul, were alive to set things straight.  She could pull out her ruler and whack the knuckles of these unruly students—and unruly parents, for that matter.