About the Colony

Her classmates are letting it all hang out, and Atascadero student has had enough

Atascadero High School.
Atascadero High School. dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

This isn’t the first time I’ve sung the praises of Atascadero High School’s newspaper, the Hilltop News. Under the leadership of Sheri Harrison, this campus newspaper has reached a very professional level of journalism, reporting on issues of importance to the student body, promoting upcoming events and taking editorial positions on issues facing students. This newspaper is obviously a sounding board for anything happening up on High School Hill.

To be open, I was once adviser to the Hilltop News when I taught English at Atascadero High from 1966 to 1972. I willingly have to admit the newspaper never looked as professional then as it does now. A relative of mine is adviser to a junior college newspaper. Nothing in that publication measures up to what readers get from the Hilltop News.

Most recently I was impressed by an opinion piece by Shelby Fair. She wrote about the ongoing violations of the school’s dress code and the futile efforts by the administration to do anything about it.

Fair wrote, “I am tired of seeing girls showing their butt cheeks in their short shorts and spilling out their cleavage with low-cut tops in public. Students are wearing obscene clothing and showing more skin than the school’s administrators and students care to see.”

Fair added that male students “wear shirts that depict inappropriate images that focus on alcohol, marijuana or even scantily-clad women, all against the dress code.”

I agree with her. I live near the high school, so I see how so many of the students dress to go to school. They dress as if they’re on their way to a day at the beach. I remember when we had “school clothes” and “school shoes” we had to change out of when we got home from school so we wouldn’t get them dirty.

I’ve been told by many administrators that it is difficult to enforce the dress code because the parents come down on the school personnel. They threaten litigation when the school insists that students adhere to certain standards.

There is what I call “soft enforcement” in trying to get the students to comply, with very few consequences if they don’t. It’s much like the city hoping merchants will willfully follow the sign ordinance instead of coming down hard on violators.

I’m sure Shelby Fair took some flack for her stand on what some of her fellow classmates are wearing to school. That goes with being a journalist, especially when her comments come down on the side of decency.

Good job, Shelby.

Lon Allan’s column is special to The Tribune.Reach Allan at 805-466-8529 or leallan@tcsn.net.