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Lathrop School uniforms?
Survey shows 70% of parents support concept
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LATHROP – Lathrop Elementary School students could be the first in the Manteca Unified School District to start wearing a school uniform.

Parent-Teacher Club president April Victorine and Principal David Silveira are meeting today with district officials to discuss that possibility.

There is a long process involved before a school uniform policy is adopted, Silveira said. For one thing, a “certain percentage” of parents have to approve it before it is officially implemented, he said.
That part, at least, has passed the initial litmus test.

“Last year, we sent out a survey of sorts asking parents for their opinion on the uniform and 70 percent (of those who responded) were agreeable to it. So we’re really hoping that we can follow the district’s guidelines. Then we’ll be the first public school in our area to go to uniform dress,” Victorine said.
“I’ve done a little bit of research myself,” she said about the steps they need to do to see this project through such as picking out colors and styles.

In addition to the informal survey, Victorine said she has “talked to a great number of parents” who have shown an “overwhelming outpouring” of support for a school uniform, which is also being called a “common dress.”

They will find out more about the steps involved in the process when they meet with district officials today, Victorine said. However, one of the requirements is that the parents have to be the driving force behind it.

“The school itself can’t initiate it. It has to come from the parents,” and that’s exactly what Victorine and the other parents have done and which Victorine and the PTC are following through, Silveira said.

“It’s a big process and there are (school district) procedures we have to follow,” said Silveira.

Lathrop School is hardly the first to actually test the waters when it comes to adopting a school uniform. August Knodt Elementary School in Weston Ranch tried to have it instituted a few years ago when Silveira, in fact, was the vice principal there. And Lathrop School itself tried it once or twice before but the effort “didn’t go anywhere.”

However, Victorine “really stepped up to see how they could move it forward, and so far, parents seem to be favorable this time,” said Silveira who admitted to be surprised at this turn of events.

Getting away from gang colors
 Victorine said they actually started the ball rolling last year.

“We just noticed we were having a lot of dress code issues, and it just seemed like teachers were having to deal with more dress code issues when they should be teaching,” said Victorine who, with husband Robert, have two children currently attending Lathrop School.

Furthermore, she said, it is “getting harder and harder for parents to buy any type of clothing” for their children without straying into colors or styles that could be mistaken or misconstrued as gang related or gang-influenced.

“There’s really no safe type of pants or logos that our children can wear,” including the ones that a lot of manufacturers are selling, Victorine said. “It’s just becoming more and more difficult for us parents to be able to buy appropriate clothes for our children. So we decided that we wanted to work on protecting our children.”

Silveira said part of the plans right now is to establish a Clothes Closet where parents can turn in their children’s old uniforms for other kids. Victorine calls it a “recycling program” that will allow students “to turn in their gently used uniforms from previous years.” It’s a practice commonly used at private and parochial schools, and that’s exactly where she got the idea, Victorine said.

The changing times
Jumping into the school uniform bandwagon is just the latest in a list of changes that has been taking place on campus in the last few years.

Soon after he took over the helm as principal about five years ago, Silveira said the students along with the parents collectively decided to change the school colors.
“Their (school) colors were red and white when I started,” which were associated with the Norteno gang that was present in town at that time, Silveira said.

Working with the School Resource Officer, Deputy Rudy Navarro, at that time, and with the school district officials, Silveira sought to have the school colors changed, explaining that the request was “mostly for safety reason, because gang popularity was high at that time” in Lathrop.

When they got the green light to pick the school’s new colors, “We put the color choices to the kids and the community,” Silveira said.

He laughed as he noted that “it was just interesting” that Lathrop High School ended up choosing the same colors that they picked five years ago.

Another change that transpired at the school happened when Lathrop School did away with the old evening graduation ceremonies for its eighth graders and opted to have a morning “promotion ceremony” instead. Gone were the usual graduation gowns, too, with the students wearing regular dresses as they received their certificates promoting them to high school.

Lathrop School’s graduation used to be almost a two-hour ceremony at Sierra High School, where graduates went to high school before the Lathrop secondary campus opened. Silveira said it was also the Parent-Teacher Club that wanted to “bring back” the ceremony to Lathrop School and to “downsize” it.

“The parents were the ones that said, ‘why don’t we bring it back to Lathrop School?’ So we did that,” Silveira said.