The Student Newspaper of Cathedral Catholic High School

Dons Press

The Student Newspaper of Cathedral Catholic High School

Dons Press

The Student Newspaper of Cathedral Catholic High School

Dons Press

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Past the Knee, Bend the Knee

Zoey+Ronco+%E2%80%9824+pictured+with+a+Pinterest+board+of+homecoming+dresses+that+fit+the+new+dress+code.+Female+students+must+make+the+change+from+traditionally+short+dresses+to+maxi+and+midi+lengths.+
Hong-An Phan
Zoey Ronco ‘24 pictured with a Pinterest board of homecoming dresses that fit the new dress code. Female students must make the change from traditionally short dresses to maxi and midi lengths.

In a fashionable manner, students of Cathedral Catholic High School are yet again astonished by the increasingly restrictive dress code. With homecoming swiftly approaching, administration has taken it upon themselves to further lengthen the rule book and dresses as well. 

But this isn’t the first time that CCHS students have experienced this growing restraint against their ability to express themselves and their personal styles through their fashion choices. The past four years have been torn by conflicts between students and administration, whose patched up solutions have still maintained the frustration on campus. 

Tracing the stitching back to its start, one can see that the seams began to fray in May of 2019, when former principal and current president, Dr. Calkins announced the decision to ban skirts. 

His announcement email read, “Male faculty feel uncomfortable addressing female students about the length of their skirts, and even female faculty have expressed frustration with the ongoing challenge of dress code.” 

Angelina Hicks ‘20, former editor at El Cid, interviewed protester Luke Meyers ‘20 in her article, “CCHS skirt ban sparks student protest”, “‘I’m really disappointed in the people that made [the skirt ban] decision. It teaches young adults the completely wrong message about how to handle complex issues. Rather than tackle them head on and deal with an issue that I’m sure every Catholic school faces to some degree, administration has chosen to remove the problem altogether. It teaches students that decisions that affect many can be made by few and that compromise is not the way to deal with issues. 

‘This is a major decision that affects the image and integrity of an entire school, and I think I should care about something like that regardless of whether or not the change actually affects me.’”

Members of the CCHS community echoed their support for the protests, with parents specifically speaking out against the sudden decision. Chrissy Callahan’s article “Cathedral Catholic High School bans skirts from its dress code” published May 23, 2019 on TODAY, features Carrie Wilhite, a CCHS parent, who stated, “In today’s environment with #MeToo and a focus on female empowerment, it felt very demeaning and moralizing to receive an email announcing that the school just changed the uniform policy, especially since they didn’t take any parents’ voices into consideration. We’re trying to raise our girls to be strong women and have good values and we got x’ed out of the conversation.”

Although administration may have believed that their new dress code would snap the loose threads from the seams, Kurt Fritzenkotter revealed in a comment on El Cid on May 31, 2019, “This discussion has been going on since I was at UNI and Cathedral high school closed…”

Fritzenkotter’s statement would prove true as a year after the banning of skirts, administration had to face yet another looming threat. Starting in March of 2022, dress code evaluations were enforced into classrooms to address the pants worn by female students. These inspections led to piles of dress code slips described by Sarah Brown ‘24 in her article, “The Dress Code Crisis” on March 10, 2022, 

“Female students arrived to find a selection of pants, the majority of which were designed for males. This is not only non-inclusive of various body types, as students were forced to wear pants that were severely too large or too tight, but also caused them to miss a portion of their class.”

These experiences seem to be a backstitch from Dr. Calkin’s quote from the previous year, where explained his decision to remove skirts from campus to Chrissy Callahan from Today, “Why we have a dress code to begin with, which is to have students and faculty pay less attention to fashion and a lot more attention to issues involving faith, character and learning.”

Still, students are expressing frustrations that dress code regulations are much more restrictive for girls rather than boys. Brown ‘24 wrote, “Why are female pants villainized and not the male equivalents?… If the administration is going to crack down on the dress code, they would benefit from addressing all of its flaws. To avoid this would create tension between genders and confusion among students, who will fail to honor a system that is tarnished by inequalities…If the administration fails to find balance, Cathedral Catholic will acquire a reputation of disorganization and sexism.”

Students stripped the administrations’ responses bare, as the outrage would only increase. This was seen at last year’s formal, covered by former El Cid editor, Danielle Corrao ‘23, in her article “Dress Code Turn Away”,

“The uproar caused by girls who felt belittled and offended surfaced at school and lasted for weeks… For boys, it is easy to follow the dress code. But the problem with these rules is they don’t mean the same for every girl, because every girl’s body is different.”

Corrao ‘23 remarked that the dress code was counterintuitive to the Catholic themes and values that CCHS wears proudly, “We are taught to love the body God gave us and cherish it. But how are we supposed to feel that when our Catholic school is judging us on how we dress?.. Many students believe dress codes put a spotlight on females’ physiques, labeling their outfits was inappropriate and distracting. Cathedral’s definition of inappropriate is outdated and subjects all body types to fit into a box we shouldn’t have to fit into.”

With homecoming being in a few short weeks, the female community at CCHS continues to voice frustrations with the new dress code. Yahoo defines homecoming as a high school event where “dresses are usually short and the suits are more chill, compared to the gowns and tuxes some will rock for their big prom night.”

Contrary to Yahoo’s definition of ‘homecoming’, the CCHS homecoming dress code released on Wednesday, August 30, stated that dress length must be past the knee. Principal Conroy reinforced this on an email released on September 6, 2023, 

“This includes modest and respectful clothing choices that align with our school’s values and standards. We understand that teenagers may sometimes be inclined towards more contemporary or fashion-forward choices. Still, we believe it’s possible to balance personal style and adhering to our school’s principles.”

Initially, the fall 2023 Homecoming theme was decided on by Principal Conroy to be a fifties dance theme. However, a few seniors in ASB were disappointed by the lack of formality that could be expressed. The attire would be limited to jeans and shirts- both of which are very casual choices of clothing considering the flair of the usual homecoming dance. Administration who would later be approached by Zoey Ronco ‘24 and fellow classmates with a proposal of meeting in the middle ground. 

Ronco recalls, “Sinclair McComic ‘24 and I talked to Ms. McIntosh and we’re like, ‘Is it possible that we can do dresses to some extent if we find a middle ground with them- a compromise?’”

A compromise was met, but ASB had hoped for dresses to the mid-thigh length, and ultimately agreed to do midi and maxi dresses. Seniors rushed to propose new theme ideas to enhance the school event and settled on ‘Homecoming in the Hamptons.’

“While I wish we could wear short dresses, I understand to a certain extent where she is coming from. I think it just totally sucks for us to have our senior year- not get to do what most schools do,” Ronco shared.

There is no doubt that others alongside Ronco are understanding of the necessity of a dress code. Administration must be firm with guidelines to promote Catholic ideals, which includes a level of modesty that students should be able to meet. Principal Conroy’s perspective of the dress code is certainly understandable, but students remained discontent with their inputs being ‘zipped-up’.

The endless debate over Cathedral Catholic’s dress code seems to not stem from the restrictions themselves, but rather the lack of input from student opinion. This lengthening question remains a topic that students will likely continue to dwell on as the years pass and the rules grow longer: How many more dress codes until Cathedral Catholic can no longer cover up their unhappy community? Or will the dress codes finally cover up the students themselves?

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About the Contributor
Hong-An Phan, Editor in Chief
Native to San Diego, Hong-An Phan is a Co- Editor in Chief for Dons Press. After three consecutive years as part of the staff, Hong-An is looking forward to writing compelling articles that connect and touch many. She hopes that her craft excites those around her and sparks a curiosity about the world around them. Outside the walls of her Journalism III Honors classroom, Hong-An can be found trying new food places, shopping with her friends, cooking fusion foods with her sister, or reading a book from her collection of 90+ novels that she is very proud of.

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    Sarah BrownSep 20, 2023 at 8:16 PM

    I personally love this article! Great job connecting years worth of community opinions to target a timely concern. I loved the end!!!!

    Reply