(Copyright 1999. All rights reserved.)

The Tattoo

--- Making a Permanent Impression Since 1994 ---

February 15, 1999

Coat rule freezes students

By JEN RAJOTTE
and LAURA LINDSTROM
The Tattoo

Each day, hundreds of students walk down the chilly,
hollowed out hallways of what has become Bristol Eastern
High School, and many of them wonder what exactly is
behind the "coat rule."

Established in 1994, the "coat rule," as it is so commonly
called, states: "Outerwear garments and all head coverings
must be placed in lockers upon arrival at school. Items will
remain there until a student departs."

Students who break this rule risk losing their hats or coats
until the end of the day or even the end of the year,
depending on how serious the offense and how cooperative
the student.

Like most rules, it is, for the most part, routinely obeyed.
Although it is common to see a teacher reprimanding
someone who is wearing a jacket in school, for many
students and faculty the exact reasoning behind the rule is
unknown.

Wearing a blank look, Andrea Kozyrski, a freshman and
Eastern, said that she didn't know why the rule was in
effect.

"I donít know," she said. "Maybe because we could stick
weapons in our pockets?"
 
This seems to be a common speculation.

Michael Parker, an intern teacher at Eastern, also thought
that weapons might play a part. "You have to consider the
hidden items that could be dangerous," he said.

Parker said he thought manners were also a consideration.
"Itís keeping with the general etiquette for the building,"
he said. "When you walk into a building, you take off your
hat and jacket. Itís common courtesy."

But assistant principal Boyd Biondino said that although
etiquette and weapons may have been components in why
the rule was put into effect, neither were the core factors
of the policy.
 
Biondino said that the rule was a pro-active movement to
keep strangers who could be dangerous to students outside
of the building by identifying them by their outerwear.
"We knew that we could identify non-students visually
with a no coat policy," he said.

Staff members are supposed to notify administration if they
spot an individual wearing a coat, he said, and various staff
members are equipped with walkie-talkies for easy
communication.

"Weíre trying to make the building safer for all who use
it," Biondino said. He said he sees no need for coats to be
worn inside. "The building is climate controlled, and it's
not necessary to have outerwear," he said.

Biondino states that the rule has been "non-
confrontational," and that students "like the idea that this is
a safe school."

Not everyone agrees.

"If you want to wear [a jacket], you should be able to,"
says senior Tim Shone.

Shone said the rule isn't always enforced. "If you donít
get in trouble and just mind your own business, they don't
say anything anyway," he said. 

Kyle Younghans, a freshman, said he doesn't see a point
for the rule. "What happens if it's cold? Besides, it's a pain
to go to my locker, and I don't know where it is or my
combination," he said.
 
Some teachers do, however, offer their closet and room
space to students to keep their coats, though many find it
to be an inconvenience, especially with the construction. 

Since the heat is turned off during the weekends and isn't
turned back on until Monday morning, some members of
the faculty are willing to look the other way when they see
a student wearing a jacket until the building warms up.

"My job is to make the classroom comfortable," said Mike
Beaudoin, a math teacher at Eastern. "If the cold gets to be
a distraction, then we have to eliminate it."

With winter in full force, the need for a rule banning coats
is in the mind of the students at Eastern as they wonder --
is it a necessary policy, or just an inconvenience? 


Click here for Joe Wilbur's opinion on the coat rule


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