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Nonnewaug High School's Chief News Source

NHS Chief Advocate

Nonnewaug High School's Chief News Source

NHS Chief Advocate

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Nonnewaugs Ellie McDonald dribbles the ball during a game last season. McDonalds nickname is Smellie -- one of many Chief names that exist on the girls soccer team. (Courtesy of Noreen Chung)
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Students Switching to Summer Mode Meet Nonnewaug’s Dress Code

Hailey Goldman ’26
From left, Nonnewaug students Ella Quinn, Olivia Gwiazdoski, Julia Gwiazdoski, Eddie Longo, and Robert Metcalfe sit outside to each lunch. Students often have to take into account the weather when choosing their outfit for the day — but they also need to take into account the school’s dress code.

WOODBURY – As summer approaches and heat waves start to pass through, students quickly switch over to warm-weather staples – tank tops, shorts and T-shirts. 

The line between acceptable and unacceptable clothing can blur quickly, and students at Nonnewaug may not understand where that line is for clothing — that is, if they even know that a line exists.

“What dress code?” asked sophomore Scott Viveros.

Some students think that administrators should elaborate upon what is acceptable and what isn’t. Everyone’s opinions, including teachers’ opinions, are all different on what is and what isn’t acceptable for school. 

“If they’re going to enforce the dress code, they should tell us what the actual dress code is,” said junior Ellie McDonald. “I feel like no one actually knows the dress code, so people just wear whatever they want.”

According to Nonnewaug’s student handbook, “Students should dress and groom themselves for the business of school in a manner that does not disrupt the educational process or pose a health of safety threat. To that end, the school dress code encourages students to dress in a manner that prepares them for academic and professional endeavors.”

The only items explicitly prohibited include depictions of violence, drugs, alcohol, weapons, the Confederate flag, obscenities, and symbols of hate.

Most students and teachers have different thoughts and opinions on what is obvious and self-explanatory and what should be written out and clarified. But the prevailing opinion among staff members is that NHS students should know what is appropriate dress for school.

“I feel like you should look at yourself and think, ‘Is this the way I want to present myself?’” said Nonnewaug school resource officer Christopher O’Toole.

Staying in one place for seven hours requires students to put thought into what they want to wear to school depending on the weather outside, the temperature inside, and their personal taste.

Students often face the decision to cover up or let their skin show, especially depending on the blazing heat that arrives in as summer approaches. Nonnewaug administration wants students to still have their own identity and allow them to wear what they would like — to an extent. 

“As an educational environment, we are trying to provide a pretty consistent environment that the workforce would be like,” said Declan Curtin, Nonnewaug’s dean of students. “In many cases for students, that’s your job, and as such you need to come to school and present yourself in the best way you can. Therefore it’s important for us to have a standard that’s appropriate and respectful at the same time. It’s important for kids to have solo liberties and have individualities, but we have to make sure we don’t cross that line.”

Considering Nonnewaug is an agricultural school where many students are going outside and working with animals or even venturing into the water, and many other students have to participate in physical education classes, a change of clothing is also expected.

“For reasons of health and safety, teachers, coaches, and advisors may require dress, grooming, or behavior requirements to meet the specific demands of a class or activity, such as a science laboratory or an agriscience class,” assistant principal Nicole Lewis said, referring to the student handbook. “Certain classes may require a change of clothing to be kept at school. When questions arise regarding the appropriateness of attire, they are to be brought to the attention of the designated administrator. The administrator will use his or her professional discretion in addressing such concerns.”

While female students may feel especially frustrated when they get called into the main office about the dress code, Lewis says clothing-related incidents happen regardless of gender.

“We do not target female students in specific,” Lewis said. “Dress code conversations for girls tend to be about the length of shorts and ensuring the shorts provide full coverage, whereas dress code conversations with boys tend to be about tank tops with deep sleeve holes or clothing that promotes alcohol products. I would say I have spoken to about 20 students this year about attire.”

About the Contributor
Hailey Goldman '26
Hailey Goldman '26, Reporter
Hailey Goldman is a sophomore at Nonnewaug who is a writer for NHS Chief Advocate. This is her first year as a writer and she enjoys writing about Nonnewaug's sports. She is an athlete who plays for the varsity girls soccer team.
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