Late Night Thoughts with Lu

Late Night Thoughts With Lu: In School, In Uniform

by Mr. Lu

After school one day, Emma was working on a new WPGA sweatshirt design for the ski and snowboard team. She was asking my opinion about the design and layout, and I let her know she did a good job on it. You can see students wearing it today. But what bothered me was the adding on of another different type of uniform design to the school collection. Uniform doesn’t seem to be very uniform these days.

Oh, I get it. Pandemic rules mean changes. Safety first. Closed changing rooms mean it’s impractical to change from PE to regular school uniform. But all this will end eventually, and when it does, I’d like to see students return to a regular, standard look uniform. Instead of a patchwork of different designs and logos, of varying team or club names, we need to return to a place where we can say this is who we are, and this is how we represent ourselves. 

I’ve heard the usual complaints –  too cold, too uncomfortable. Surely we can settle on one standard hoodie or sweater with one standard logo.  We have one standard grad jacket, it can’t be that hard to settle on something similar for the rest of the school. If the cold factor is dealt with, there should not be any reason to be out of uniform. I tire of the constant rejection and flaunting of our uniform policies. Students have a choice of where they go to school. If wearing a uniform is so disheartening and distasteful, then there are many fine public schools where no uniform is required. Even the charge of 1984-ish soul crushing conformity fails, since students can establish visual identity through pins and accoutrements, hair style, or other means, and we have always encouraged individuality expressions in other ways. 

Sport team uniforms aren’t just a random bunch of bright colours or light colours to distinguish players from each team. They are not kinda, sorta the same. Uniform isn’t a matter of it’s got the school name so it’s OK type deal. The reason sport team uniforms are all identical is to establish identity, pride, and a common bond. We know this. Yet, the usual chorus of I forgot, it’s in the wash, I lost it rebounds to me consistently. A quick survey of my students generate these untenable excuses. Oh, it’s too expensive to buy this or that, or my shirt got dirty and it’s the only one I have. Will carries his cat backpack with astonishing regularity, but not his uniform. Many parts of the uniform, like grey pants or white shirts and blouses, can be purchased from any store. A little planning and effort can ensure wearable uniform is ready every school day. Students can write thorough, thoughtful essays and solve complex math problems. They can figure out how to be in uniform.  Show a little dignity, show some honour, show you care about this school, show how much you care about this community.

Some life events, like weddings, funerals, graduations, require even more formality in dress. We have these ceremonial moments, and students need to step up to these moments with class and respect. Strolling in dressed casually to one of these events says I don’t really care about you. 

Yes, I get it. There’s are a lot of other things to worry about in the world. But this is one small thing we can control. It’s one small thing to routinely display and routinely do. It’s one small thing to take pride in. And it’s one big thing to say, I represent WPGA.

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