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Debate over school uniforms: Principal says uniforms level the playing field for students

Debate over school uniforms: Principal says uniforms level the playing field for students (KTUL)

TULSA, Okla. (KTUL) – One principal said uniforms in the Tulsa Public Schools district continues to level out the field for students.

Darin Schmidt, the principal of Memorial High School, advocates for school uniforms as often as he can.

“I love it because it creates community and minimizes differences,” he said. “You have disadvantaged kids in a school, obviously who can’t wear the more expensive clothing articles, and so we have, I think, a community where everybody belongs.”

Even if a child can’t afford uniforms the school has a closet full of them donated for students to use.

“We have the Assistance League of Tulsa that outfits students,” said Schmidt. “We really work hard at finding students that need the uniform, get them help, get them outfitted.”

“When a student comes in, new without uniforms we’ll give them three or four, sometimes five shirts,” said Jenn Howell, assistant principal at Memorial High School. “One of the things that makes us nervous if we go away from uniforms is that we still have free clothes for kids who can’t afford them but they are going to stand out.”

All Tulsa public school students are required to wear school uniforms after the district implemented the rule nearly a decade ago.

Ginny Lamkin started wearing uniforms in the fifth grade when TPS first began requiring them.

“I’ve gotten used to the uniforms,” she said. “It makes it easy in the mornings just grabbing something to wear.”

She said it also gives her a sense of pride.

“It groups us together like yeah we belong here,” said Lamkin. “Red, white and blue are our colors. There’s no other school in Tulsa that wears red, white and blue.”

Schmidt says school uniforms also provide a sense of safety for students, making it easier to identify someone who doesn’t belong.

“I think for families altogether it’s just a great idea and would never as a school principal, that’s done this now 35 years, wouldn’t want to go back,” said Schmidt.

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