On Aug. 24, during an assembly not soon to be forgotten, the 2022-2023 school year dress code was revealed. The new Dean of Students Erica Barbakow gave her presentation about the rules for the school, and much of it was the same as years prior. However, the one big change that everyone is talking about is the brand new dress code.

Ms. Barbakow decided to take a new approach to demonstrate what the student body can and cannot wear to school by using several seniors as models on a catwalk. Ms. Barbakow announced when each of the models walked up whether or not their outfits were within dress code, which became active as of the next day. 

Even though this was presenting bad news to much of the student population, people did find the show entertaining. “I hope that the students enjoyed the fashion show,” said Senior and Catwalk Model Marit Uyham.

Most students were upset over their loss of midriffs, tennis skirts, sweatpants and ripped jeans. They were also shocked by some of the clothes that were considered “academic professionalism,” such as leggings and tracksuits. “RIP tennis skirts,” said Senior Ellie Gabriel.

However, Ms. Barbakow believes that the dress code is extremely fair. “It actually used to be a lot stricter, but what we decided was that we wanted to be inclusive and let students be able to express themselves the way that they see fit but also in an academic professional way,” said Ms. Barbakow. 

“The key takeaway is being covered shoulders to mid-thigh, but the truth is that if you look at the old dress code, even what it was last year and the year before, it’s actually looser now than it was written then. It’s just that it wasn’t really enforced because we were more concerned with making sure you all had masks on your faces, but now that we’re not wearing masks, we can focus our energies back on making sure that we are professionally dressed for school.”

Ms. Barbakow explained that dress code and discipline will hopefully be more easily enforced now due to Veracross, which is how attendance has always been taken and can now be used to submit disciplinary issues more easily for faculty.

When asked about the students’ responses to losing midriffs, tennis skirts, sweatpants and ripped jeans, Ms. Barbakow responded, “Those are the four actual main things that the faculty and administration felt really needed to be addressed, so it’s not really all that surprising to me that that’s what the students are upset about. I think that’s up to them as individuals whether or not they choose to hang onto that upset. I hope they don’t – it would be silly.”

However, if students really want to discuss something in the dress code, Ms. Barbakow is willing to hear everyone out. “I’m always open to looking at something through a different lens or having students come to talk to me about why they think something should be changed,” she said. “I’m definitely open-minded, but I will say that I think if people actually read and look at the dress code, it’s pretty bendy right now. You can wear basically anything that you want as long as you’re covered from shoulders to mid-thigh.”

Ms. Barbakow also believes that Pace students will not have many issues with obeying the new code. “Pace kids want to follow the rules most of the time,” she said. “I think that they will try to do what they think is the right thing. We were trying to give you all a little bit more freedom, so we didn’t want to completely take away athletic wear, even though it does state in the handbook that athletic wear is not appropriate for the school day,” she explained. “As long as you’re covered appropriately, it’s okay.”

Ms. Barbakow doesn’t wish to overstress the importance of dress code, however. “Do I think that dress code is the most important thing we do at Pace Academy? Absolutely not. But I do believe that the way we present ourselves says a lot about this community and who we are.”

Senior Bianca Vaneri models an example of what is now out of dress code. Photo: Didier Brival

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