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Charter schools: Uniforms more appealing on Tie-Dye Wednesdays
By Charles Swenson
Eden Malinski slid the hangers slowly along the rack. She wore a floral print coverup and jean shorts. The rack displayed khaki shirts and solid polo shirts in basic colors.
“She doesn’t like the uniforms,” said her father, Jeff Malinski.
The first Family Night at Coastal Montessori Charter School last week gave parents and students a chance to look at the uniform option the charter board selected. When it opens next month, the charter school will be the first public school in Georgetown County to have uniforms.
Eden wore a uniform at her old school, Pawleys Island Christian Academy. The prospect of another didn’t thrill her. But then she found out about Tie-Dye Wednesday. “They have tie-dye stuff? That’s better,” she said.
Kirklyn Teems, whose mother is one of the school’s six teachers, was recruited to model the tie-dyed T-shirt and a khaki skirt. She isn’t a fan of uniforms, either, but she said the tie-dye helps. “I like it,” she said. “It’s very colorful.”
Lonnie Yancsurak, the school’s director, said he was surprised that the reaction to uniforms was overwhelmingly positive. “I expected people to question it a lot more,” he said.
That expectation was due to the Montessori element of the charter school, which emphasizes individuality in learning.
“Our kids can express themselves in a lot of ways other than what they wear,” he said.
Bending to input from parents, the school will open up the range of bottoms to include some brands, such as Old Navy. But they will all be navy or khaki.
And he pointed out, “the kids can wear whatever shoes they want – as long as they’re not distracting.”
A uniform vendor, Educational Outfitters of Mount Pleasant, took orders at the family night, which drew about 35 families. The school plans to open with 138 students in grades one through six.
“This is going to be easier to do than pick out their outfits every night,” said Amy Bryan, who will have two children at the school. It’s already easier, she said. “We’ll have all our back-to-school shopping done.”
Alyssa Teel’s son is going into first grade, which is part of the “lower elementary” class with grades two and three in the Montessori system. “He’s into what he wears,” she said, but excited about the new uniform.
He wore a green shirt and khaki pants as a student at St. Mary’s Catholic School last year. “We already have a lot of khaki bottoms,” Teel said.
Amelia Sargent also wore a uniform last year at her school in Georgetown. “We’re used to uniforms,” her mother, Cynthia Sargent, said. “I like uniforms.”
The only decision that needs to be made on school days is about what color shirt to wear, she explained. “It cuts down on a whole lot of nonsense.”
Abigail Alford was another uniform model. She will move from Waccamaw Elementary to the lower elementary class at Coastal Montessori. The “skort” and blue polo shirt were a little stiff because they were new, but comfortable, Abigail said.
She was able to get a glimpse in the mirror. “I looked good,” she said.
Family Night was also a chance to look at the renovated classrooms at Waccamaw Middle School, which will house the school for the first two years. Parents, staff and board members painted the vacant wing that once housed sixth-grade students earlier in the month.
And they voted on the school mascot, chosing from Sun, Wave and Thunder. The results will be announced in the next newsletter. “We had a pretty convincing winner,” Yanscurak said.