Waiakea High officials mull uniform policy


By COLIN M. STEWART

Tribune-Herald staff writer

Each year, when a new class of freshmen matriculates at Waiakea High, a number of students and parents inquire about the possibility of instituting a uniform policy at the school.

“The ninth-grade students usually ask every year,” said Principal Kelcy Koga. “They’ve just come up from the middle school where they have uniforms, and they liked it.”

Usually, the requests never really go anywhere. The school had a uniform policy back in the early 2000s, Koga explains, but “it didn’t go over very well.” A number of concerns come up whenever uniforms are discussed, from the costs incurred by students and their families, to teens expressing their individuality, to the difficulty of enforcing something like a uniform policy, especially in a high school.

“‘Because I said so’ goes a long way when you’re dealing with middle-schoolers,” he said with a laugh. “Not so much at this age.”

But, in an effort to be responsive to the requests, Koga says the school is taking a closer look this year at the issue and polling students and faculty on their thoughts concerning uniforms. Administrators have already polled between 70 and 80 percent of the school staff, as well as members of student government and some parents, and so far the idea of uniforms has been met with approval by between 50 and 60 percent of respondents.

Now, the issue has been placed on the agenda for the Tuesday, Oct. 29, meeting of Waiakea High’s School Community Council, he said.

“We’re taking a look at it, measuring where everyone’s at on the issue, and seeing if there’s reason to go forward,” Koga said.

He added that current discussions about a uniform have been pretty open ended, allowing athletic shirts or anything else with a Waiakea logo on it to be worn.

“Basically, my own philosophy is that I do believe our students should be dressed appropriately,” Koga said. “And for the most part, they are. If we see someone dressed inappropriately, we have them change. But what I don’t want to see is disciplining kids based on what they’re wearing. It’s hard enough to get them in school to begin with. And the kids know what’s appropriate and what’s not. We’re looking into this mainly because of a push from some of the parents.”

He added, however, that the school will only move forward if it is clear that students and parents are behind the idea.

“We’re not really wanting to push towards this without support. Uniforms are a big deal for kids, and it’s not something I just want to shove down their throats,” Koga said.

The SCC meeting will be held at 6 p.m. on Oct. 29 in the A building conference room on the ground floor. Other items on the agenda include reports on the school’s Strive HI scores, the effective educator system, ACT scores, and the school quality survey.

Email Colin M. Stewart at cstewart@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

 

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