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The North Star

Following the news since 1972

The North Star

Following the news since 1972

The North Star

Hats and Hoods at Oshkosh North

Hats+and+Hoods+at+Oshkosh+North

 

This year marks a major change in Oshkosh North High School’s dress code: Students can now wear hats and hoods in the building during school hours. 

The administration changed the rule after reflecting on its dress code policies, something they do yearly.

“Part of that decision [to allow hats and hoods in the building] was looking at societal trends in other schools. For example, Oshkosh West High School has allowed hats and hoods for a few years now,” Assistant Principal Tyler Umentum said.

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In addition to West, Webster Stanley Middle School also allowed hats and hoods previously

“We had hats and hoods at Webster Stanley Middle School last year, so I didn’t even notice the change,” said Freshman Zeke Van Matre.

This year, Vel Phillips Middle School (VPMS) will allow hats and hoods. 

“[VPMS] allows hats and hoods as well, so we have incoming freshmen [from Vel Phillips] where that’s been their norm for the past three years. To flip something drastic like that could be a huge adjustment for kids, and entering high school is already an adjustment,” Umentum said.

According to a survey published by 2023 graduate Lexy Simpson in the North Star last school year, the Oshkosh Area School District (OASD) has banned hats and hoods in North High since at least 2016. West High School allowed them starting in 2021. Simpson’s article brings up historical reasons for banning hats and hoods, namely discriminating against commonly marginalized groups.

School dress code policies often spark worldwide controversy, whether it be gender targeted dress code or simply banning hats and hoods in the building. Dress codes in schools are constantly debated in courtrooms, where policies are commonly found to be discriminatory against students of minority groups.

At the start of the year, students were immediately confused when no staff member told them to remove their hoods.

“Students from previous years were coming in wearing their hoods. They noticed right away that [the staff] weren’t saying anything about it, so they had a lot of questions,” said Umentum. 

Umentum also explained how hats and hoods actually benefit staff members and do not put them at a disadvantage.

“Some people wear hoods and hats when they come in, maybe for a fashion statement, but for a lot of our older students, it’s a way to show that they’re not in a good headspace. It’s given us an opportunity to check in with them.”

Overall, Umentum doesn’t think students wearing hats or hoods pose a security threat to the school. 

“What I’ve noticed is that we’ve been able to identify students pretty quickly [even when they] wear hats and hoods. If we can’t identify who a student is and need to, we can watch on cameras to see which classes they go into and look at class rosters as well.”

Joscelyn Howe, a junior who wears a hood and sometimes a hat, appreciates the policy change. 

“I thought it was a good change. It hurts no one to wear a hat or hood, and it’s no longer taking time away from class as students aren’t being told to take them off by staff members.” 

Howe explained that her choice of whether to wear a hat or hood on a daily basis stems from comfort, anxiety relief, and style. 

“It’s comfortable [to wear a hood] and makes me feel safer, especially when my anxiety is high. With hats, it makes my outfits look better.”

Multiple other students agreed that wearing hats and hoods poses no safety threat. Senior Brynn McCartney believes the previous ban was wrong from the beginning.

“I thought it was absurd that we weren’t allowed to wear hoods or hats in the first place because what is the threat to wearing a hat or hood?” 

Senior Jennifer Swapp agreed and compared it to COVID-era policies.

“I know it was a concern that hats and hoods would make it hard to tell who a student is, but with masks, you could still tell who was who. I don’t feel any less safe with hats and hoods being allowed,” said Swapp.

Senior Kylen Smith partially agrees with his graduating classmates. He believes hats don’t pose a safety threat but that hoods conceal too much of a person’s face.
“I feel like the hoods still hide too much [of someone’s face], but the hats, they don’t cover much, and that’s why I wear one. They’re also more of a comfort thing for me.”

Many students wear hats and hoods for comfort, however, some staff members don’t interpret it that way. Science teacher Christopher Kujawa believes students covering their face sends teachers a clear message.

“I think people should be proud of who they are, and when people put a hood up, it covers that. When students wear hoods, it tells me they wanna shut everyone else out.”

Kujawa believes that fewer students wore hats and hoods this year because it’s no longer punishable.

“I’ve seen fewer students wearing hats and hoods this year than last year. I think students realized they’re not going to get punished for wearing one and don’t want to wear it as it’s no longer seen as a sign of defiance.”

 

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