Try a little class It was with awe that I watched a video recording of the 1987 high school baccalaureate exercise of my niece from a small mining town in Nevada. The girls marched to the stage in gowns and hats. Many of the dresses looked like they had come from a Las Vegas chorus line.

The class president lost a piece of her anatomy out of the top of her dress, but the gallant vice-president tucked her back into place.

Since that time, some of my work has taken me inside the schools where I have been concerned about the dress code, or lack thereof. I have seen skin over, under, around and through. l feel bad for the girls that diminish themselves by exposing parts that ought to be kept where the sun doesn't shine. I feel equally sorry for young hormone-impacted males who are attempting to learn English and science with anatomy in their face all day. Imagine the powers of concentration needed.

Parents, you still have the right to be parents. You can assert that right and both model and teach appropriate ways to dress. I used to tell my older sons, if there was no place to pin a corsage but the skirt on their date's dress, they couldn't take the girl out. They believed me and had conversations with their dates before dances about wearing apparel so their old bat of a mother wouldn't humiliate them out of their gourds. And guys who wear their jeans riding low, do you really think those little hearts on your jockeys are a turn-on? The ''construction-look'' crack-up or should I say crack-out might be appealing to some; I just don't know who.

Now for the modeling part. Let me just use the school for an example. It is my opinion no one works harder or deserves more respect than educators. I believe teachers should dress in a very professional way that demonstrates respect for themselves and their profession.

I'm not going to get into the fact this most valued profession is underpaid and underappreciated. They are being watched by hundreds of students and the community.

I had a preschool in my home at one time. It was important to me to look like a teacher, with an important job to do each day. Rolling out of bed five minutes before classes started and putting on sweats was not going to give the message to parents and students that I wanted to give.

I still remember how every one of my teachers in grade school, junior high and high school dressed, and in some cases, how they smelled! Would you think I just crawled out of a cave if I told you when I was in high school and our ball teams had a game, every member of the team wore a suit that day, including the coach. The coaches kept their suit and ties on during the games. I really liked the 'ambiance' that was created by players and coaches who dressed up. I think it demonstrated a great deal of class. Incidentally, I don't think a tie is essential to dressing up.

I know the way we dress affects the way we act. When I was in high school some of my friends and I participated in exchange assemblies with our "Old Folks Dating Game" skit. We had to wear our 'costumes' on the bus as we traveled. As long as I wore Maude Frikert's jersey dress, stuffed in all the appropriate places, powdered hair and wrinkles, I was talking like someone that needed more Polident on their dentures. I couldn't get out of the role as long as I was dressed for the part.

Before I leave class alone, it's not just about dress. How do we express ourselves? I'm afraid you'll think about that cave I crawled out of again when I say I thought sports were about learning teamwork, skill, character building and having fun. I know that notion is misguided when I hear coaches and parents yelling as if they had Tourette's syndrome from the sidelines. I love sports, and yelling at an exciting game is just fine by me; but cussing, gesturing and having fits of seizures that appear to be directed at the guys in black and white, or worse the kids playing their hearts out, is modeling poor behavior in my book. I think we can show more class and sportsmanship at games and save Tourette's for when we're out in traffic!

This article was inspired by a conversation with a very active and involved community member. We can only enhance the things we love about this community by adding a little class. At times that means covering up, dressing up and shutting up.

Sherry Berteaux, BSW MA, is a licensed mental health therapist. Please submit topics or questions you would like to have addressed in Family Forum to or mail to the Chinook Observer, Attn: Sherry Berteaux, P.O. Box 427, Long Beach, WA 98631.

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