School uniforms are not new. However, having families lobby tirelessly for eight months at school committee and subcommittee meetings for school uniforms at their school – and WIN. That IS something new. Parent leaders of P-PUA (Peck Parents United in Action) with my assistance as translator and interpreter conducted surveys and collected signatures on ballots that numbered well over 210 adults who represented over 350 children at the Peck Full-Service Community School (FSCS) in Holyoke, MA. Furthermore, they learned to navigate the process of presenting at school committee meetings, no small feat, given that five of the 7 parents are Spanish-dominant.
According to P-PUA leaders – Mari Santiago; husband-and-wife teams, María Rodríguez and Rafael “Rafi” Torres, and Luz Román and Juan Perez; Barbara Torres; and Gloria Aquino – these are the reasons why Peck families want uniforms:
the opportunity for Peck families to save money on clothes
an increased sense of school community and school pride among Peck students and Peck families
increased safety for Peck students before, during and after school
the promotion of professionalism among all our students, which will benefit them in the workforce and in college
decreased judgment, intimidation, and/or bullying based on clothing
increased student focus on schoolwork and fewer distractions as a result of clothes
P-PUA, a parent action group for ALL Peck families, had already experienced success in lobbying at Holyoke school committee and subcommittee meetings for the activation of and payment for short-term winter bus transportation for Peck students grades K-5 who otherwise did not qualify for transportation this past year.
Peck School uniform colors consist of light blue or white tops, khaki or navy blue bottoms and the Peck FSCS T-shirt with logo. Families can mix and match the colors at their discretion. On Fridays, students K-8 will be allowed to wear jeans. Footwear is at the family’s discretion. In a show of support of this pilot program, Mr. Paul Hyry-Dermith, principal of the Peck FSCS, and Ms.Megan Harding, FSCS Program Manager, approved the purchase of T-shirts with the Peck FSCS logo to give as a gift to every Peck student during the first week of school.
P-PUA’s efforts will not stop there. Working together with Peck administrators, they will assist in rolling out the uniform program this year. Furthermore, they plan to have monthly fundraisers in order to raise money to buy school uniforms for any Peck families who demonstrate a need.
All Peck families are welcome to monthly P-PUA meetings and are encouraged to contact me, María Luisa Arroyo, Family Access and Engagement Coordinator at Peck (413.534.2040, email@example.com) if they wish to volunteer at the school, to learn more about P-PUA and other working groups, as well learn about the vast array of programs and support services we provide as a full service community school. Programs include monthly bilingual Family Conversations/Charlas, PiC (parents-in-the-classroom) projects, and a growing family volunteer program. Support services include a school-based health center, a case management team, and on-site after-school programs.