William Ramsay Elementary School has decided to reintroduce optional uniforms for all students this week to eliminate some obvious inequities and allow students to focus on their work in the classroom rather than what they wear to school.
The uniforms, donated by the Hoffman family, aim to strengthen the sense of community among Ramsay’s West End families. As well as encouraging a sense of Ramsay Roadrunner pride, the uniforms also form part of a community venture to encourage families to volunteer at the school in exchange for a free laundry service. The laundry service, installed through a donation from the Washington Redskins, not only allows families an easy way for keeping the new uniforms clean while they read to students in class, attend a family engagement session or check out instructional resources from the parent center, it also allows staff to support students in feeling good about themselves.
While the school uniform policy is not mandatory, we’ve already noticed the social and academic impact since we started handing them out. Uniforms support the learning environment of our school by keeping students focused on learning. They reduce clothing and brand-related peer pressure and enhance school pride by reinforcing unity and spirit. And, they help families save money,” said William Ramsay Principal Michael Routhouska.
This week, each student received two uniforms and a spirit wear t-shirt, to be worn on uniform-free Fridays. Families were required to sit through a presentation on the protocols around the uniform policy prior to receiving their free uniforms. All families are required to use the uniforms if they take them, and return them to swap them out for a new set when their child outgrows them. During the parent session, families are informed of the benefits of uniforms, including improving student confidence, comfort levels and pride in their work.
If students are all wearing the same thing, then they can express their individuality in how hard they work, by the ideas in their heads, by the things they make in the art room, or the music they make in band or orchestra. Individuality becomes about what they are doing in school and not about how they are dressed,” said Principal Routhouska.
Eight ACPS schools have already adopted uniforms, a choice that is left to the discretion of the principal.