Hollie Sikes, a sophomore at Farragut High School, led the charge that will affect what girls in middle and high schools in Knox County will be allowed to wear to school.
On Wednesday evening, April 12, Knox County Board of Education voted unanimously, 9-0, to approve the change for shorts, skirts and dresses from fingertip length to mid-thigh.
“I’m very glad that the movement made it as far as it did,” Sikes stated Monday. April 10, in a text message. “I’m very honored to be a catalyst by way of teens making a difference and I hope this inspires more in my community and outside of it.”
The dress code battle wasn’t an overnight victory: Sikes started in August with a petition on change.org prompted by “the irrationally strict dress code rules in the Knox County School system,” the sophomore stated. “The general guidelines for students, the majority females, and the clothes they can wear in this school system is shocking and, frankly, quite disappointing.
“We cannot ignore the simple truth that clothing stores do not sell a wide variety of shorts for girls that are below fingertip length, if any, so young women are forced to wear long pants and jeans in 90-100 degree weather simply to avoid suspension.”
The petition garnered articles on cosmopolitan.com and college-candy.com and on local news outlets.
It also got her ideas in front of the school board last fall when Lynn Fugate, District 4 representative, agreed to take her proposal to a meeting. In March, Sikes’ proposal was passed on first reading at a school board meeting before it became official last week.
Susan Horn, District 5 school board representative [includes Farragut schools] explained why she voted in favor of Sikes’ proposal. “We heard from several students and parents at the beginning of the school year who were having difficulty finding shorts long enough to meet the requirement of fingertip length,” Horn said “Also, with differemt body types — some people have longer arms or torsos — if you have longer arms, your shorts would have to be longer. The intention with the new requirement is to be more personal for each child’s body type. Mid-thigh is slightly shorter than fingertip length on most people, but it’s still a modest length.”
“We trust the judgement of the board, and are excited about more clarity around the policy," said FHS principal Ryan Siebe.
However, “I don’t approve of girls wearing short shorts, that’s for sure,” said Lori Moczadlo, in her third year as PTSO president at FHS. “I don’t think that’s appropriate. I don’t know how administrators can quantify it and be consistent. I still think the fingertip length is a good benchmark. As far as I know, I don’t think many get sent home for dress code violations. I don’t think it’s a big problem.
“... My daughter has certain clothes she wears to school and clothes she doesn’t wear to school,” Moczadlo added. “She thinks some shorts are too short. I think the administrators are just trying to keep everybody dressing modestly.”
“Although initially I did not agree with changing the dress code, I was happy to voice students’ concerns,” said Sydney Rowell, a senior at Hardin Valley Academy who serves as student representative with the school board. “The concern I have is saying ‘mid-thigh length’ will be different for teachers and administrators to monitor. My idea of ‘mid-thigh’ might be different from your idea of mid-thigh. ...”