Count your blessings

Abigail Waechter | Managing Editor

On my first day of high school, I was dress coded.

I wore a spaghetti strapped, white shirt with ripped blue jeans and tennis shoes. When my biology teacher handed me the yellow dress code slip, it said that I had violated the “no showing of shoulders” rule. This was my first day in a public high school, where I thought I had the freedom to wear what I wanted, but in reality, there was no freedom at all. In fact, I don’t think I experienced true freedom until I moved to Mason.

My whole life I had been restricted to the rules of an enforced dress code. In kindergarten, I had to wear a white collared shirt with a red, green, and yellow plaid jumper over it and white socks paired with black slip-on, formal shoes. I wasn’t allowed to paint my nails, wear make-up, dye my hair, or wear bows or headbands either.

When I was in second grade, the dress code changed. Girls were required to wear the same jumper attire, but this time ankle socks were not allowed, so I had to wear knee high socks or tights.

When I was in fifth grade, the dress code changed again. Girls were now required to wear white collared shirts with skirts (that had to reach the bottom of our knees) with the same plaid pattern used in the prior years, knee-high socks, and the same formal shoes.

When I was in sixth grade, the dress code changed again. I had to wear a navy blue collared shirt with a specific emblem embroidered onto the left sleeve of the shirt, with the same plaid skirt, knee-high socks, and brown shoes.

In eighth grade, it changed again. The emblem on the left sleeve of my navy shirt changed to say “SMI” and I had to purchase new shirts for my last year in school, and jackets embroidered with the school’s logo were now allowed.

After I graduated from eighth grade, I was tired of being limited. Public schools represented so much more freedom to me, but little did I know, I would still be limited. When I was dress-coded on the first day of freshman year, it sent me on an adventure through the school handbook, which said that girls were not allowed to wear revealing clothing that showed their shoulders or stomachs.

Then I moved to Mason. I remember asking a few of the SIBS that ran the new student orientation what was restricted in the dress code, and they told me that Mason basically “doesn’t have a dress code.”


I could wear clothing that made me feel good in my body, and wear colors that would compliment my skin tone, wear pajamas when I felt like it, and paint my nails! Finally, I didn’t have to consider what I was allowed to wear, and could focus on what I wanted to wear.

I love Mason’s dress code. It’s a blessing, and we are lucky to have it, but it’s in jeopardy.

As November approaches, the school board elections are afoot, and they control so much of the freedom we have. They maintain the dress code, the mask mandates, the diversity and inclusive excellence training, the sexual education requirements, the curriculum we are taught, and so much more. More than half of the spots are up for election. There are three incumbents and three challengers, six total people are running. Only three will win. Some of these challengers want to drastically change many of the freedoms we exercise on a day-to-day basis at Mason, like enforcing a stricter dress code. It might never be as extreme as wearing a uniform, but it can still pose a threat to our freedom.

It’s time to practice what our government teachers preach.

It’s time to educate ourselves, not by reading the posters around the exterior of the school, but on the party platforms, and understand the ways that these changes will affect us. It’s time for the seniors who are 18 to register to vote, and actually vote for the good of our school.

If you really want to leave a legacy on the school, this is how you’re going to do it. Go vote. Go tell your parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles and neighbors that they need to vote. This is going to be one of the most influential elections in 2021, and it’s in our hands.