Marley Middle Students Wear Hoodies, Dress for Success
Students had the option of participating in the theme days as a way to stress the importance of not judging someone based on their appearance, according to the school’s principal.
With national attention surrounding the case of a 17-year-old boy shot to death by a neighborhood watch leader in Florida, Marley Middle used the opportunity to teach students not to form judgments based on appearances, the school’s principal said.
On March 27, students were given the opportunity to break the dress code and wear hooded sweatshirts during the school day. On the following day, students were invited to “dress for success” and wear clothes they would wear on a job interview.
Trayvon Martin—the teen killed in Florida—was reportedly wearing a “hoodie” when he was shot. Many have linked the article of clothing to the neighborhood watch leader’s statement on a 911 call that the boy was “suspicious,” according to media reports.
People everywhere from social media to rallies in Baltimore; Washington, DC and New York have put on hoodies as a show of support for Martin.
“Watching the news and seeing the virtual tsunami that was out there of concern about [Martin’s death], I could see kids wanting to participate,” said Marley Middle principal Kevin Buckley.
It is against the school's dress code to wear hoodies during the school day.
Buckley said he decided to control the situation by expanding on a lesson the students learned throughout February—basing judgment on the content of one’s character.
“I thought it fit in with the lessons they’ve been learning,” Buckley said.
Some parents expressed concern about students participating, saying it appeared as though the principal was taking one side over the other when all of the facts of the case have yet to be heard.
“We probably had three emails from parents,” said Anne Arundel County Public Schools spokesman Bob Mosier. “There hasn’t been an outcry.”
Eighth-grader Kenneth Wheeler, 13, said he wore a hoodie to school as a way to show school spirit.
“I wanted to show that we’re not judging people by what they look like, but by what’s inside,” he said.
Eighth-grader Taniah Harris, 13, also participated in hoodie day.
“A lot of people liked … being able to support the life of Trayvon Martin” and remind people not to judge based on appearances, she said. “Some had pictures of [Trayvon] on their sweatshirts or things that said ‘RIP Trayvon.’”
Kenneth said he saw most students wearing hoodies to school, but added that for some it was just an opportunity to break the school’s dress code.
“Everyone had their hoods up at lunch,” he said. “We couldn’t wear them in class and in the hallways, we still had to follow school rules and be respectful.”
Chad Albrecht, parent of two students at Marley Middle, told FOX45 that he kept his children home on hoodie day out of fear of what might happen to them if they choose not to participate.
“If other students attend school and they don’t have it, it could be construed as them being against the topic even if they’re not,” he told FOX45. “And I think that could lead to a situation where there’s confrontation, and that's unnecessary.”
But Buckley said there were no incidents at the school.
“My biggest concern that day—and most days—is kids running in the hallways,” he said.
Students were able to “dress for success” the next day, as a preparation for what life would be like once they enter the workforce.
Lenox Hall, 13, an eighth-grader, said she was happy to participate in both hoodie day and dress for success day.
“I think that dressing for success is good because when you get older you need to show people how you are and how you act,” she said. “It’s practice for what I’m going to need to do in the future.”
Buckley stressed that the theme days were in no way political.
“We’re not taking a stand one way or the other on the shooting. That’s totally inappropriate,” he said. “But awareness of what’s going on in other parts of the country … and the message of not judging people based on their appearance was what I wanted to convey.”
Marley Middle Parent Teacher Student Association Treasurer Angela Thiess said the organization thought both events were a positive experience for students.
"We understood that 'hoodie' day was to represent judging a person by character and not by their appearance. Dress for success is to promote the value of professionalism in students," she wrote in an email to Patch. "Both events were to promote positive affirmations and positive thinking which can help develop a powerful and positive attitude to life; which is essential in life success and good health."