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New School Year New Socks

Back-to-school shopping didn’t elicit much excitement when I was a child; not like it does today. It was all about the knee socks.

Because I attended Catholic school for 12 years, I wore a uniform each year. There was no need for buying colorful new school clothes. The biggest purchase each year was for new knee socks. Socks tended to wear out; not so much the case for uniforms that were sewn from more durable material.

In grade school, the knee socks were navy blue to match the solid blue jumper that we wore with collared white blouses. Pants were not permitted although many of us wore shorts under our skirts. Our uniforms also included a SMS beanie that was mandatory for Mass attendance.

Then in high school, the biggest decision was between buying and wearing gray or maroon knee socks. And because I was the third girl in the family’s line of uniform wearers, I often had hand-me-downs from my sisters. In high school, we wore pleated gray skirts, white blouses and gray or maroon sweaters. The boys were outfitted in similar colors of pants, shirts, sweaters and ties.

I remember one rather rebellious schoolmate who dared to wear another color sweater to school. This was during the early 1970s when the “do your own thing” was a popular slogan. Her attempt at individualism earned her a stint in after-school detention.

Wearing uniforms also posed a challenge to the female set back then. This was when mini skirts were all the rage. The school had a rule that our skirts could not be any shorter than the tips of our fingers when standing with our hands down at our sides. Many teachers carried a yardstick to determine who was non-compliant.

We became experienced in rolling up our skirts at the waist to shorten them when we wanted to be in style, and rolling them down for in-class time.

While I see some schools still require uniforms, others struggle to maintain a reasonable dress code when allowing shorts, tank tops and ripped jeans.

Today I look at the school supply lists posted in local stores that indicate what students today should tote with them to the classroom this year. Some of the items are out of my understanding of educational tools.

The COVID-19 virus has added to the list of must-haves. Masks, hand sanitizers, wipes, tissues, paper towels, calculators and earbuds are standard on the lists.

I don’t know how the younger kids even carry all this stuff to class. And I didn’t even mention the books, notebooks, folders and laptop computers.

Good luck to all students, parents and educators during this new school year. I hope it each day will be as easy as pulling up your knee socks and heading out the door.

Heather Ziegler can be reached by email at hziegler@theintelligencer.net.

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