Dress to Impress


Children are powered by creativity. A cardboard box isn’t just a box, but a rocket ship to take it’s passengers to the moon. A dog isn’t just a dog, but a dragon that is preventing the prince from reaching his princess in the far away tower. Society encourages imagination from children, but at what age does that start to fade? At what age do we start to expect more time for work than play? When does creativity stop?

Today’s culture appears to allow so much room for self expression in society and on the internet, yet teenagers do not feel the same level of creativity and expression as they did when they were younger. These young adults are being faced with stricter rules and expectations nowadays that the pressure is on.

Things are being stripped away to demote the process of creativity.

The joy of playing in the snow on snow days is now gone with the solidation of online schooling resources for every student. More uniform writing prompts being given in classes rather than letting students pick and choose how to express their thoughts. Most of all, students are struggling to properly express themselves and feel their best due to the demanding constraints of modern day dress codes.

According to the Derry Area School District handbook “Derry Area administration reserves the right to question any mode of dress/jewelry/hair style that is beyond current community/school accepted standards or that jeopardizes the health, welfare or safety of the student or other students.” These rules are implemented to keep a modest environment in the classrooms. They will keep from any distractions pertaining to revealing clothing and inappropriate dress. Students need to stay focused on academic work rather than clothing and appearance.

​Derry Area student Ashley Baker thinks “why not both?”

Baker is a junior at Derry and keeps herself very involved in student life. Over the course of the past year, Baker has been working to turn Derry school into a “safe place for all to be able to express themselves.” Students feel the pressure of living up to others expectations and standards rather than letting their creativity take the reins. Female students have expressed their concerns the most while they feel the dress code directly targets them.

“I very strongly believe our current dress code not only hinders creativity but creates such stigma around clothing, especially women’s clothing,” said Baker. “There needs to be an understanding that at this point in high school girls are old enough and responsible enough to understand when their clothing is appropriate and when it is not. I believe that if someone feels comfortable in what they are wearing no one else has the right to make them feel any different.”

Forms of creative expression have greatly changed throughout the years, yet dress codes seem to be remaining the same. Students feel as if they do not have a creative outlet. Administrators feel as if they are keeping a stable environment in the building. The top priority of a learning environment is to educate, not to impress others with the way you dress. Whether there is a right or a wrong, both advocates want their voices to be heard and understood.

Even though creative opportunities are being phased out, there are still plenty of ways for students to get in tune with their creative side. Whether it be with art classes, music courses, or creative writing, there are outlets available for those who feel the need to branch out of their normal thinking routine.

​“I have been working closely with Mr. Long to try to get this changed starting last school year,” said Baker. “I am hoping with the support of the community we will be able to bring changes in our school.”