By Celine Klosterman
IOWA CITY — On their first day of school Monday, students at Regina Catholic Education Center formed a small sea of navy, white and gold.
The colored polo shirts with Regina logos that many wore are a staple of the school’s new dress code, which Regina is mandating for kindergarteners to seniors after recommending it for a year.
The code allows dress shirts, short- and long-sleeved polo shirts and fleece jackets, vests and pullovers that are purchased from Lands’ End. All of those items must bear Regina’s emblem. Some students may also wear cardigan sweaters, dress capris or shorts, which needn’t be bought from Lands’ End. Families can buy dress pants from any retailer.
President Carol Trueg said students and faculty wanted a code that was better defined and easier to follow and enforce than the school’s previous “loose” rules. She hopes the logos will promote Regina locally.
The school requires families to buy some items from Lands’ End because of the clothes’ quality and for the sake of consistency, she said. “We wanted to make enforcement as easy as possible. A teacher won’t have to decide, ‘is this shirt appropriate or not?’”
The education subcommittee of Regina’s school board added the logo requirement to dress code suggestions students offered, she said. “Over the past two years, I have encountered such fabulous, well-behaved and polite students in our hallways, but I always regretted the fact that no one knew that they were Regina students once they walked out the doors.”
Parents’ views on the new rules vary. At school board meetings, some parents voiced concerns about the cost of Lands’ End clothes and the logos. The price for most shirts ranges from about $15-$30; an emblem featuring the Regina crown and name costs an additional $5.50.
Regina will e-mail families and post notices on its website when Lands’ End offers twice-yearly promotions including discounts, one-cent logo sales and free shipping, Trueg said.
Vicki Concha, mother of two sons in Regina’s junior/senior high, told The Catholic Messenger that with such promotions, “it ends up being as inexpensive as going to a bargain store. But these clothes last much longer.”
She said the new code fosters school unity and makes morning preparations easier. “I love that getting dressed is, OK, grab one of three colored shirts.”
Katie Brown, mother of two children in Regina’s elementary, said that Lands’ End shirts her first-grader, Cooper, wore last year still look “basically brand new.” The quality of the retailer’s clothing will make planned, annual uniform swap sales practical, she said.
But Mary Murphy, mother of three students in Regina’s elementary and one in junior high, said she prefers a more “reasonable” dress code that doesn’t require a certain vendor and logo. “Even with Lands’ End sales, my family can buy less expensive clothing elsewhere,” she said.
She believes the new policy deserved more consideration before it was approved.
Current students’ views are mixed.
“Regina students may not like the uniform at first,” but they will eventually adjust, said senior James Davis. “I’ve heard students claim that a uniform would ‘strip them of their individuality.’” But they’ll find ways to create their own style, he said.
Senior Emma Hopson said there was no point in complaining about the dress code. “Is it my first choice of attire to wear to school? No. But I do believe this is easy and will cut down on a lot of unnecessary problems. We now know point blank what we can and cannot wear… the students can focus on learning, and the teachers can focus on teaching.”
Regina is the only Catholic school in the Davenport Diocese whose dress code currently requires a logo and specific retailer for most tops worn by kindergarteners to 12th-graders. Prince of Peace Academy and College Preparatory in Clinton, Holy Trinity Catholic Elementary and Junior/Senior High in Lee County, and Notre Dame Elementary and Junior/Senior High in Burlington all require collared shirts with sleeves. Notre Dame and Prince of Peace mandate specific, solid colors for shirts.