Cape high school students get mixed marks for adhering to dress code during orientation

Tuesday, August 7, 2012
Cape Central Principal Dr. Mike Cowan and assistant principal Nancy Scheller check in incoming juniors Monday, Aug. 6, 2012 during orientation in the school's cafeteria. Cowan and Scheller checked compliance of the new dress code as students checked-in for their yearbook photos. Students not in compliance, such as the student pictured, had to change their top before taking their yearbook photo. (Laura Simon)

Polo shirt? A majority passed.

Shorts of "appropriate length" and shoes that cover the foot? Not so many did as well.

Orientation sessions held at Cape Girardeau Central High School on Monday were a trial run of sorts for student compliance with the new dress code that will take effect the first day of school. Students were asked by school staff to wear clothing that adheres to the code so advice on how to adjust their wardrobe could be given. Many students did fully comply while others mixed elements of the code with their typical summer wear. During the orientation session for incoming juniors, around half of students who attended appeared to be in total compliance, wearing a collared, solid color shirt with khakis or plain jeans, tucked in with a belt if the shirt length was excessive. Some wore school T-shirts -- allowed by the code -- with torn jeans and flip flops. Others wore code-compliant shirts with very short cutoffs, gym shorts or baggy pants. A few students, such as Sara Carwile, a junior, chose not to go along with the request at all.

"It's not actually school yet, and I have things to do today after this," Carwile said while waiting in line to check in and have her photo taken for her student ID. "I will comply, but just not right now," she said.

Student senate officers and seniors Tyler Anderson and Emily Sheets did dress per school instruction, but neither expressed related enthusiasm about doing so.

"I didn't want to really have to go out and buy all new stuff," said Sheets, pointing to her knee-length khaki shorts. "I spent money I wouldn't have, and I wanted to wear sweatpants my senior year, like every day."

Anderson said "jeans are where all the speculation is going to be" when staff checks to see if students are following the rules.

Some parents who attended the sessions weren't happy, either, and said they feel many students are being punished because others wouldn't follow the school's prior dress code. Jennifer Huffman has three children attending Cape Girardeau public schools and said none of them ever needed to experience any discipline for the clothes they wore to school.

"This has been a real struggle for us," she said. "It's really been hard on the pocketbook."

Principal Mike Cowan said staff didn't find many issues with dress code compliance when the seniors went through the morning orientation session.

"We've been pleased that most of the kids have been very compliant," he said. "And they look great."

Cowan said the whole idea of asking students to wear certain clothing to orientation sessions was only so staff could advise them how to be in compliance and to hopefully avoid issues the first day of school. Students who did not comply during orientation were spoken to privately, Cowan said.

A fashion show of dress code-compliant clothing is planned for freshman orientation Wednesday. Sophomores are asked to attend orientation today. The first day of classes is Aug. 16. A list of orientation times is available online at

Students in all grades are expected to comply with the new rules for dress.


Pertinent address:

1000 S. Silver Springs Road, Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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