Broad Horizon students challenge school policy

Mike Linn

Students at Broad Horizons are tired of being told they can’t sport baggy pants, sleeveless shirts and excessive jewelry.
But instead of revolting against their superiors by throwing spit balls at the chalk board, they decided to fight school policy a different way.
Almost 20 percent of the students — 20 in all — have formed a Principal Advisory Team (PAT), a group guided by their desire to incite change in the school dress code and reduce unexcused absences from students.
“It’s wonderful to watch them come together and work in this process,” first-year Principal Sharon Haught said. “This group of students will be my pipeline. If they approve a change (in school policy) I know it will be successful.”
The PAT had its first meeting on Sept. 3, and Haught said the students are learning to work as a group and actively seeking change in school policy the “right,” most sensible way.
Students in the PAT say a little leniency on the dress code can go a long way in thwarting the school’s truancy issues.
“I just think they shouldn’t care how we come to school dressed like, as long as we’re here and present,” said junior Brenda Gonzalez, a PAT member.
Gonzalez said if the students were allowed to dress in a more comfortable manner, chances are more students would attend school.
Senior Patrick Vigil, also a PAT member, fought successfully to lift a ban prohibiting sleeveless shirts.
Vigil said he noticed a double standard in that teachers could wear sleeveless shirts, while students could not.
“They were trying to say I couldn’t wear these shirts, but yet all my teachers would wear them, and the principal would wear them,” said Vigil, who was sporting a sleeveless shirt which made a large tattoo on his left shoulder noticeable on Friday afternoon. “But I kept wearing the shirts, and I kept getting in trouble, but finally they had a meeting about it and now I can wear them.”
For PAT member Klarisa Jones, a junior, a student’s wardrobe is an expression of their personality.
“People show who they are by the way they dress, and we shouldn’t have to buy a whole new wardrobe when we come back to school after the summer,” Jones said.
Students are also trying to use positive reinforcement to curb poor attendance.
The reward for a year’s worth of no unexcused absences: a trip to Six Flags. The money to pay for the trip will be financed by car washes and fund raisers the PAT hopes to perform throughout the year.
The PAT students already have been successful in attaining extra parking space at school, Haught said.
The PAT at Broad Horizons, an alternative school for credit and dropout recovery students, has garnered a great deal of support from Haught, who believes the new program builds real-life skills.
“I’m so proud of them, they’ve never had a chance to be leaders and now they are on their way,” Haught said.