About 20 middle and high school students met at the Cumberland County Headquarters Library on May 12 to have an honest and open discussion with teachers, school counselors, social workers and administrators about the current dress code practices as they relate to equity and inclusion.
Each of the 13 tables' discussions were led by members of the Superintendent's Student Voices, which are a group of 11th- and 12th-graders who meet monthly with Dr. Marvin Connelly, Jr., to talk about current issues, practices and protocols in CCS.
"We have a passionate group of young people who recognize a need to reconsider the current dress code policy and procedures to ensure that there are equitable practices [in our schools] regarding gender and cultural sensitivities," said Kristen Newitt, SSV's adviser and the district's Counselor Coordinator.
The 'roundtable discussions' allowed the participants to talk candidly about and 'share out' with the participants their thoughts surrounding the following topics: (1) Positives of the current student dress code policies/procedures; (2) Challenges associated with the current dress code policies/procedures; and (3) Solutions to overcome student dress code challenges.
According to Newitt, each table's feedback will be compiled and referenced whenever district leaders decide to update dress code policy and regulations.
The students say they are hopeful that inclusion and equity will be a part of this update and are glad to have been given the opportunity to voice their opinions to the adults in this forum.
"I think this [roundtable discussion] is extremely amazing because I have this conversation with everyone all of the time," said Elizabeth Paschal, a sophomore at Terry Sanford High School. "The biggest thing is that I'm being listened to and respected rather than being dismissed."