By Ron Leir
NORTH ARLINGTON –
When he heard that he’d be looking like everybody else in his school in September, the news didn’t really sit well with Louis Davico.
The 15-year-old who will be entering his sophomore year at North Arlington High School said: “I didn’t like it … at first. I thought we should have the right to wear what we want.”
But he softened, just a bit, when his school uniform colors were unveiled. “I thought blue was nice, but not grey,” Louis said. His mother, however, figured he’d better take both so he’d have a change.
In the end, Louis didn’t have much of a choice about what to wear since the North Arlington Board of Education voted June 3 to introduce a mandatory school uniform policy for all kids from kindergarten to 12th grade.
And, on July 22, the board designated Mail Direct Office Solutions of Lyndhurst as the vendor to outfit its student population of more than 1,500. Board President George McDermott said that of three potential suppliers in the area, Mail Direct had “the best price.”
Elementary school kids are required to wear a light blue polo shirt with the district’s Viking logo embroidered with “North Arlington” on top and “Elementary Schools” below.
For the middle school, a royal blue polo with the Viking logo accompanied by “North Arlington” and “Middle School” script.
And at the high school, a royal blue or grey polo with the Viking logo plus “NAHS” and “Vikings” will be de rigueur.
The board has also issued style guidelines for what can be worn to complement the standard polo for each school category.
High schoolers, for example, can wear “any long sleeve T-shirt” under their polo but it “must be one solid color (white, blue, grey or black) and must not have any print.” Only black or capri pants, along with black or khaki shorts (Bermuda style or cargo), are acceptable but, pay heed ladies, “all shorts must be knee length.”
Except for gym, sweatpants are verboten!
Committees of parents and staff from each school came up with the recommendations for the mandatory ensembles which were offered by the vendor for sale for the first time last week at the high school cafeteria.
Students and their parents streamed into the cafeteria last Tuesday and Thursday to try on for size – and buy – the polos. Other optional accessories were also available for purchase.
Mail Direct owner Michele Cimicata said the embroidered short-sleeve polo shirts were retailing at $9.35 apiece and the long-sleeves were going for $12 each. The company also had samples of bottoms, shorts, fleece jackets and hooded sweatshirts at various price ranges.
The company is the uniform vendor for the Lyndhurst public schools and the Maria Varisco Charter School in Newark; it also provides sport and spirit wear for numerous PTA fundraisers in surrounding communities and it services multiple corporate clients, Cimicata said.
It was scheduled to have clothing available for purchase at the high school cafeteria Aug. 13 and 14 and at its Lyndhurst store, 515 Valley Brook Ave., including some extended evening hours.
A random sampling of polo purchasers last week found parents generally receptive to the new mandate, although one father who declined to give his name griped: “This is on top of all we pay for taxes. I think that’s not good.”
But Jennifer Mejia, mother of two girls going into sixth and fourth grade, said she had no objection to the policy. “I’m for it,’’ she said. “It creates less competition between students and it identifies them as students anywhere they are.”
And Marcus and Dina, whose sons will be entering fourth and second grades, said they didn’t mind the expense. “It’s good,” said Marcus (the couple declined to give their last name) because when you make all kids wear the same thing, you know they’re from the school so it’s safer.”
Eighth-grade-bound Matthew Zarro, 13, said students should’ve been given a chance to vote on what to wear. But, he added, “it won’t be a big deal because we’ll all be wearing the same thing.”