August 24, 2004 – As the doors opened on a new school year at Ivanna Eudora Kean High School, administrators said they were pleased to welcome not only their students, but hundreds of parents who accompanied them to school orientation.
Principal Sharon McCollum Rogers and other school administrators opened the Monday morning session for freshmen and parents with an introduction to the school, its goals and its rules.
The new dress code was enforced.
Late last year, the new principal announced new policies regarding uniforms. The changes, centered on eliminating baggy pants for boys and short skirts for girls, were spelled out in the media, presented on public television and illustrated on posters that were sent to local retail shops and fabric stores.
The word appeared to get out to the public. Ibrahim Asfour, co-owner of Asfour's Department store on the waterfront who pointed to a poster displayed near his checkout counter that was sent to him by school administrators, said this week, "They have to be on the waist, hem on the bottom, not on the floor, but at the top of the shoes and a plain, gentleman's cut, not baggy, not below the waist."
Girl's uniform guidelines focus on knee-length hemlines and anklet socks instead of low cut peds, which cannot be seen above the tops of student's shoes.
On Monday administrators and teachers were on patrol through the crowds as they entered into the school gymnasium. Those who didn't cut muster were turned away at the door.
Assistant Principal Leroy Trotman, who supervised the processing of new students from a platform in the middle of the gym, said the emphasis on uniform compliance is a means to encourage further cooperation with school policies.
"The uniform, while it does not play an academic role, plays a good discipline role from the parental standpoint, the student's standpoint, and from the school's standpoint. We all have to obey rules," he said.
Among the hundreds of parents escorting their freshman to school was police officer Roy Chesterfield. He said he had no problem with school officials at Eudora Kean laying down the law. "Dr. Rogers is a disciplinarian. She is known to keep things in order. I'm a disciplinarian myself so it's easy to follow her directives," he said.
After parents and students get the message on uniform requirements, school officials feel they can gain compliance with other rules. The assistant principal stopped short of saying the parents had to bring their child to orientation as a rule, but he said it's a practice that is being more encouraged.
Those parents who miss this orientation day are being asked to bring their child back for a special orientation and register after school starts on Sept. 1.
Orientation continues all week as students in grades 9 through 12 go through uniform inspection, pick up their schedules, get photo IDs and pay school fees.
Because of a federal compliance agreement between the U.S. Department of Education and the V. I. government, Eudora Kean administrators had to submit a school improvement plan for approval.
Part of the plan, Trotman said, includes a parent's compact. "And with that compact they are promising that there are certain specific things that will be done at home and they are going to be an active member of this school community throughout the year."
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