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Uniforms for Sharp students a possibility

COVINGTON - Officials at the Newton County School System and Sharp Learning Center are looking into requiring students at the alternative school to wear uniforms.

"I think it would be better for the school," Sharp Principal Gabriel Burnette said to school board members at their last monthly meeting.

He said uniforms could change the community's perception about the students and also change the student's perception about themselves.

"When a child dresses a certain way, they act a certain way," he said. "Just because someone thinks negatively of you doesn't mean you have to act a certain way."

Newton County Board of Education members agreed with the principal and encouraged him to move forward with researching the possibility of requiring students to wear uniforms.

"I know we've tightened up (the dress code at Sharp) a little last year, but I don't think we did it enough," board member Johnny Smith said. "We can start moving toward that as quickly as we can."

Burnette said he's talked to some parents and staff members about the possibility of having students wear uniforms, and many agree it could help the students.

After discussing the possibility of having uniforms required at the start of the 2008-09 school year or later, Burnette and the board agreed he should bring some preliminary information regarding a uniform policy to the board at its September meeting, rather than try to implement any new policies over the summer. They discussed the possibility of having a trial run during the second semester of the 2008-09 school year.

The school could move forward with putting the policy in place after further discussions with the school's stakeholders and with the approval of the board members.

In April, Middle Ridge Elementary School officials brought a request to the board in April to have a uniform policy implemented at their school after more than a year of discussions, surveys and research.

The board approved the school's request, making it the fourth elementary school in Newton County to have uniform policies behind Ficquett, Porterdale and Heard-Mixon elementary schools.

The board also discussed the possibility of having a uniform policy for all elementary schools but has yet to take action on that.

No middle or high school in the Newton County School System has a uniform policy. Sharp serves students in grades six through 12 from the county's middle and high schools.

Burnette and school board members also discussed getting Sharp students involved in beautification projects.

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd@newtoncitizen.com.