Holy Trinity implements more formal dress code

Some of the first-and second-graders at Holy Trinity Catholic Elementary School in West Point pose wearing clothing allowed by the school’s new dress code.

By Celine Klosterman

Gone are pink polo tops, black blouses and chartreuse shirts.

In are navy and white dress shirts and turtlenecks — plus plaid skirts, jumpers and khaki pants.

They’re among the approved items of clothing in the new dress code at Holy Trinity Catholic Schools in Lee County. Thanks largely to the initiative of a group of parents, the schools’ board of education finalized the stricter policy last academic year in hopes of simplifying enforcement and promoting a professional image.


The rules took effect in August for the elementary school in West Point and will apply to the junior/senior high school in Fort Madison beginning next year.

“We feel we provide a different level of education,” said Gary Hoyer, board president. “I think our students, to a certain extent, are set apart, and we want how they dress to reflect that.”

He said Holy Trinity’s new dress code, which specifies approved colors and types of tops and bottoms, is easier to enforce than the school system’s previous policy. In past years, students could wear almost any collared shirts with sleeves and most solid-color dress pants and skirts. Teachers and staffers had to spend too much time determining whether specific items of clothing were allowed, he said.  

The new rules have made parent Canda Rashid’s life easier. Now, she can buy fewer shirts, and items from the dress-code sections of department stores and discount retailers are affordable, she said. “My clothing bill went down quite a bit,” said the mother of three elementary students and one teenager.

That’s one reason Rashid formed a committee of parents last year to explore interest in a more formal dress policy. After debate, consideration of uniforms, and a vote by incoming high school students on types of plaid, the board of education settled on a stricter version of  Holy Trinity’s previous dress code.

But not all parents supported the change. Students looked well dressed under the school system’s former policy, which let them better express their individuality, said Paul Biegler, father of a sixth-grader and an eighth-grader.

Clothes required by the new dress code are an extra expense for families, he said. “Kids will never wear these again anywhere else. Students still need to buy nice clothes for outside of school.”

He hopes the new rules won’t deter students from enrolling at Holy Trinity. His nephew’s family has been considering transferring from the public school system, but because of the Catholic schools’ new dress code, the student is now “dead set against it,” Biegler said.

Parent Diane Powers can understand a student’s reluctance. After she graduated from a Catholic school, “I never wanted to see a white blouse and blue skirt again.” But she and her classmates looked decent, she said. The more professionally you dress, the more professionally you act, she added.

The mother of a freshman and junior at Holy Trinity, Powers also has daughters who attended Aquinas Catholic Schools in Fort Madison. During discussion about the dress code at Aquinas, those daughters voted in a student survey to implement a stricter policy. “They said, ‘Mom, people have Guess jeans, all this name-brand clothing.’ Our family has six kids, so we wear whatever’s on sale.” Holy Trinity’s new dress code doesn’t allow non-school logos or labels, so it levels the playing field, Powers said.

But Biegler said class differences will still be clear — if only in the school parking lot. “Kids notice who’s driving a Cadillac before they notice who’s wearing an expensive shirt.”

From Powers’ perspective, the issue is settled. “For a parent, this dress code simplifies your life.”

Condensed excerpts of Holy Trinity’s new dress policy

Bottoms:  Girls: Tan khaki (K–12) or navy pants (K-6) skirts, skorts and jumpers (no shorter than either 4 inches above the knee or fingertip length with arms extended). School-approved plaid acceptable in skirts, skorts, and jumpers. Boys: Tan khaki (K – 12) or navy (K-6) pants.

No jeans. Shorts allowed from May 1 to Oct. 1

Tops: Solid navy or white dress shirts or polo shirts with turned-down collars and sleeves or full turtleneck shirts. Solid, royal blue polo shirts allowed if purchased through the school. Shirts shall be tucked in.

Sweaters: Solid navy or white cardigans, pullovers, fleece, V-neck and sweater vests may be worn over an approved top with collar showing.

Sweatshirts: Solid gray or royal blue sweatshirts with approved HTC logo allowed if purchased through the school and worn over an approved top with collar showing.

Violations result in detentions.

For the full code, visit www.holytrinityschools.org.

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