A group of East Ridge High School students gathered outside the Bennett Avenue school on Wednesday afternoon to protest the new high school dress code.
The protest started inside the high school with students walking the halls before they were asked to leave and moved their protest to the public sidewalk.
The group, which included students from every grade, said they were protesting the new dress code primarily to protect the freshmen from bullying, but also because of the expense to all students and families of buying new clothes to meet dress code requirements.
East Ridge News Online left a voicemail message for ERHS Principal Tammy Helton requesting comment on the protest. The voicemail was not immediately returned.
The new code, which was given to parents two weeks ago, disallowes the use of “spirit wear” (read t-shirts that say east ridge) from Monday through Thursday. During this part of the week students in grades 10 – 12 must wear polo shirts that are white, orange or grey.
“I have been here three years and have a whole wardrobe full of spirit shirts that I’ve bought for $20 – $30 each,” said senior Rosie Oden. “I don’t have many polos.”
The new code also requires freshman students to wear navy colored polos, a color that would be exclusive to the freshmen and potentially single them out.
“They want to pretend like bullying doesn’t exist, but as a freshmen I experienced bullying a few times” stated senior Tyler Bell.
“All we want is the dress code to be reverted to as it was last year,” stated Courtney Taylor, a junior.
Sophomore Alya Cobb was concerned about the cost of meeting the new code. “We just found out about this two weeks ago and a lot of us don’t have the money to buy the clothes needed to meet the new code,” she said.
Freshman Ashley Henry stated a challenge she faced was finding boot-cut jeans, also a requirement of the new dress code. “Most of the stores carry fitted jeans,” Henry said. “It’s hard to find boot cut jeans.”
Sophomore Kimmie Oden started on online petition that has collected over 1,000 signatures. “It’s over 1,100 signatures and I removed all the duplicates” she said
Ms. Oden stated that she had tried to contact Hamilton County Schools Superintendent Rick Smith and East Ridge High Principal Tammy Helton but she largely felt ignored and dismissed.
“I just don’t know why they are so concerned about what is on our body and not what is in our mind,” Oden said.