Friday, November 22, 2013

Stylin' At School

When I was a kid, I was plunked into Catholic school whenever there was that option near our various duty stations. My parents had what was called in those days a "mixed marriage," my mother being Protestant and my father Catholic.  Mom had promised to raise us as Catholics in order to marry Dad, and she kept her word. If we didn't have a Catholic school nearby, we went to catechism class.  All this effort only worked on two of their four children, but if that was a baseball score, they'd be in the Hall of Fame.

Of course, I hated the regimentation, the emphasis on sin and almost certain Hell, and the fierce nuns but the thing I hated most was wearing a uniform. All Catholic schools seem to revere the uniform. At Duchesne Academy in Omaha, Nebraska, we had blazers and plaid skirts in the fall/winter, and they were donned when school started, no matter how hot was the inevitable Indian summer. We had pastel cotton dresses, always well below the knee (and measured daily by those nuns) during the brief spring and, naturally, we donned those on a chosen day, too, no matter how late the winter lingered. Any discomfort was a gift for us to "offer up to God." 

Oh, and then there were the plain black dresses with celluloid collars and cuffs, and thick black stockings with black "beetle crusher" shoes that we had to wear at Most Holy Rosary School in Freshwater, near Argentia, Newfoundland. It was enough to put a teenage girl off God for life!

So, when I started tutoring second graders at a local charter school, I was somewhat dismayed to find that they are required to wear uniforms.  Being California, it's a pretty easy uniform - pale blue polo shirts and navy blue chinos for both boys and girls - but it's a uniform nonetheless, and it is carefully policed by the wonderful and fearful Principal of the school. 

Of course, the children find all kinds of ways to express their individuality - you've never seen such a colorful array of jackets, sweaters, backpacks, barrettes, ribbons, and shoes. The students mostly adhere to the uniform dictates, but everything else about what they wear screams personal preference.

And, every now and then, when their uniforms are dirty, or lost, or somehow missing - then their true style struts out.  While I understand the reasoning behind requiring uniforms and I applaud the effort to keep fashion consciousness to a minimum in a school setting, especially among elementary school students, I must admit that I love to see the many ways the children find to show their style at school. 

I guess that rebellious teen lives on in me, doesn't she?


Blogger Namastenancy said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Friday, November 22, 2013  
Blogger Namastenancy said...

Your take on uniforms is funny; I had to wear lots of different kinds as we moved from country to country. It never bothered me much but then, I didn't have the Catholic theology to deal with either. Plus, I liked the simplicity of it - even at at early age, I was never one for style in any form.

Friday, November 22, 2013  
Blogger Diane said...

and that's what is so charming, that rebellion side of you. no wonder you dislike uniforms, having to wear some of those outfits! great shot.

Friday, November 22, 2013  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Nancy, you are quite literally the first girl I have ever known who didn't object to uniforms! We were always trying to shorten them too much for the nuns, or wear more interesting blouses under them, or something to jazz them up. My hat is off to you!

Diane, thanks. The children at my school are an amazingly rich source for good shots, but I have to be careful not to include their faces, as I don't have the parents' permission. In a way, that actually makes photographing them more creative.

Saturday, November 23, 2013  

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