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LIKE IT OR NOT, OUR ATTIRE SENDS A STRONG MESSAGE

I am responding to the recent News article and letters concerning appropriate dress for secondary-school students. Many of us who work in education -- I teach in Niagara County secondary schools and at Buffalo State College -- are taken aback with the sartorial choices that some students make.

The purpose of secondary school is to prepare young people for the time when they will become independent and accept responsibility by taking a job or furthering their education in pursuit of a career.

Therefore, students might consider that during the time they are in school, school is their job and they should treat it as such.

While I don't believe in dress codes, good judgment needs to be encouraged. The operative word here is "appropriate."

Just because midriff tops, micro-mini skirts, short shorts and T-shirts with risque or violent slogans are sold in upscale department stores does not mean they are appropriate to be worn in all situations.

Bikinis, athletic bras and pajamas are also sold, but I don't wear them to work or school. There are plenty of places to wear revealing, funky or otherwise unconventional attire besides school or work -- unless your job requires such clothing.

Like it or not, the fact is that people who wear short skirts or midriffs, or expose lots of underwear or skin (the latter applies to men and women) usually do it to receive sexual attention. Unfortunately, as was stated, "If you dress like a slob, you'll be treated like a slob."

It follows that if one presents oneself as a sex object or a freak, one will be reguarded as a sex object or a freak. This is why, in offices, we present ourselves as professionals.

Secondary education is a time to make choices for the road ahead. Appropriate clothing choices speak volumes to peers, teachers and current and future employers about a student's attitude, outlook on life and sense of well-being. They also convey information about the wearer's sense of style, personality and creativity.

Inappropriate choices, on the other hand, convey poor taste and bad judgment. We all should be mindful of the messages our attire is sending.

KAREN S. WEHN Lockport

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