Local News

School uniforms a first at Harnett alternative school

Posted October 3, 2008 7:02 p.m. EDT

— Students say that Harnett County's first school uniforms have taught them that looks do make a difference.

Harnett County Schools purchased uniforms as a pilot program at STAR Academy, an alternative school. Administrators said they are already seeing improving focus among students.

"Attitudes seem to be a little bit different," Vic Hampton, special population coordinator, said.

Both male and female students must wear navy polo shirts, khaki pants, white shoes and belts. Students said the uniforms are creating a equalizing trend, replacing gang colors.

"Everybody is wearing the same thing, so you are not judging them by what they are wearing," said an 11th-grader, who has been kept anonymous.

Students are sent to STAR Academy for misbehavior in other schools, and those who do well can return to their regular school after 90 days.

Administrators said the principle is that uniforms promote unity among the student body, because once everyone looks the same, they get along much better.

"It's like going to prom. When you go to prom, you don't fight at prom," Hampton said.

The 11th grader who spoke to WRAL News aid that he did not like "blending in" at first, but he has learned to see past the uniforms.

"If you really get to know somebody, it's not all about the clothes," he said. "You gotta get to know that person. It's pretty nice."

Staff members said that what students learn to wear in the classroom affects them later in the work force.

"When you go on a job interview, you need to look neat," Hampton sad. "And I think it starts here at school. We need to change the attitude and the way our kids dress. We need to preach a lot of that."