New dress code is welcomed by most students

Abi Bartusek, Writer

School dress codes have been debated for decades, and they have remained virtually the same for decades. According to Principal Nicole Adams, the NPHS dress code has not been updated since the 1990s. With a continuously changing society, one would think the dress code would stay updated to fit today’s society. This year, NPHS finally updated its dress code to keep up with the times. The previous dress code included rules against spaghetti straps, exposed midriffs, and shorts, skirts, or dresses that don’t reach fingertip length. According to the updated NPHS student handbook, students are only required to wear a shirt, shorts, and shoes. As long as “clothes [are] worn in a way such that genitals, buttocks, breasts, and nipples are fully covered with opaque fabric,” it is okay for students to express themselves through dress any way they choose, unless it displays drugs, alcohol, profanity, or hate speech, or it is a swimsuit or bullet proof vest. The rules have significantly changed for the 2022-23 school year. 

In past years, female students seemed to be most greatly affected by the dress code, and some teachers and administration claimed the rules were in place to ensure they wouldn’t “distract others’ learning.” When asked whether she thought the dress code should be influenced by whether or not female fashion trends could “distract [from] others’ learning.” 

Senior Ella Horejsi said, “I really really doubt that is an issue, and if it is, then women should not be held responsible. I don’t believe that we should have to put in all the effort in trying to make ourselves less ‘distracting.’” 

Many female-identifying students recognize that it is not their responsibility to dress a certain way to not distract boys.

When asked why the administration decided to change the dress code, Principal Nicole Adams said, “It had not been updated since the 1990s, and things have changed a lot since then. We wanted to ensure that it really focused on student self-expression.” She then talked about the importance of the new dress code. She said it was important that “we were using gender-neutral language because disproportionately it was female-identifying students that were being sent down to the office [due to the] dress code.” 

In the past, the dress code has reflected the idea that student clothing can distract other students from learning. Ms. Adams wanted the dress code to turn the responsibility to families so the school could “only intervene when it is really disruptive to learning.” She went on to explain that the administration “wants students to be able to manage their own distractions. It is not the school’s responsibility to manage distractions for them unless it is really causing harm to the learning environment”. Finally, she wanted to mention that “there is no research that shows that a strict dress code or a more loose dress code has any impact on student learning outcomes.” Ultimately, Adams said the administration has “higher priorities” than focusing on dress code. 

When asked her thoughts on the new dress code Frau Elsen said, “I am super glad it changed because it is more equitable now.” 

Herr Lacey had a similar answer. He said, “I think it provided an equitable response to student fashion choices and the ability to wear clothes they feel comfortable . . .  [and] respected [in] at school.” 

Responding to the question “From a teacher perspective, why do you think the administration decided to change the dress code,” Elsen said, “I think that it was really hard to be consistent. The outcome now is that it is more consistent on what we allow and don’t allow.” 

Asked if he would follow suit with the decision of the administration, Lacey said, “I would have done the same, knowing that students are at school to learn, and it should provide an equitable way to feel comfortable and learn at school.” 

Overall, it seems teachers are happy about the change, and their main goal is to see students feel comfortable at school as they learn what they need to know. 

Male identifying students in the school were asked their views on the dress code changes. Each said something along the lines of, “nothing has changed,” or “it doesn’t affect me, so I don’t really care.”

Female identifying students’ comments were more varied. Horejsi said, “I appreciate how the administration is starting to recognize it is not about what people wear to school, but it is about how people perceive what people wear to school. It is not a distraction as long as people are comfortable with themselves and what they are wearing.” 

Junior Leslie Otero said, “I think it is cool,” and Madison Jensen, also a junior, said, “When I found out we could wear tank tops, it was so much better, and I felt more comfortable in the school.” 

Next, Caitlin Latzie, a sophomore, said, “I think it is good that it got changed because we should be able to dress really however we want, unless it has violence or worldly distractions.” 

Overall, female-identifying students feel more comfortable now that they can wear pretty much what they want without being dress coded. 

In high school, most students feel they should, to an extent, be able to make their own fashion decisions. Freshman Alicia Spano said, “It makes me feel like we are kind of growing up, so you can decide what you are gonna wear.” 

As society changes and students get older, it is very important for students to be able to find themselves, and a huge part of that is being able to comfortably express themselves through clothing, which is what the new dress code aims to do.