More can’t start here without individuality

STA’s policies, such as hair color and dress code, restrict our individuality and make us commercial conformists rather than citizens that promote change.


by Violet Cowdin, Staff Photographer

As I unfold the St. Teresa’s Academy promotional magazine, I see the quintessential Catholic, all-girls high school student. Natural hair color, white socks, plaid skirt touching the knee cap, sweater with the emblem and white collar peeking out. This is the ideal, this is the money maker. This is the mold that we should strive to be. Heaven forbid our donors saw a girl with pink hair and patterned socks on the front of our annual magazine, or one of our students cheering on the soccer team in a tank top.

I understand that we are a private high school and that we will have policies and rules enforced that I may not agree with, yet what seems to be happening at our school is a clear hypocrisy. Our administration boasts its dedication to the empowerment and preparation of its students, yet they force us to be consumeristic conformists, rather than individual and creative citizens. Administration advertises our voices as influential, but seems deaf to our ideas when we advocate for change.

Stated on the St. Teresa’s website, under Core Beliefs, the words “Through the collaborative effort of the administration, faculty and staff, parents, board of directors, and alumnae, students learn the relationship between freedom and personal responsibility, empowering them to contribute positively to their world.”

How are we, as a student body, able to “learn the relationship between freedom and personal responsibility” if our voices are not even heard? Last year, a policy restricting unnatural colored hair was enforced. There was a fair amount of anger from the student body, and eventually a petition was made, which collected over half the student body’s signatures. This petition, as well as a persuasive essay regarding freedom of expression was brought to administration. The administration responded by stating “Our goal is to encourage students to express their individuality through personality, academic or extracurricular achievements, not outward appearances.”

Essentially, administration wants us to appear as the polite, sweet and harmless Catholic school girl, yet also expects us to go above and beyond societal expectations in all possible realms other than appearance. If I am expected to be a powerful, capable, and independent young woman, then why shouldn’t I be able to express myself freely? Especially if the way I choose to express myself is completely harmless. Because if I don’t conform, then I will not represent the ideal student for our consumers. Yes, our donors are our consumers, and essentially we are the product. And yes, the way we are disciplined directly correlates with the way our administration wants to profit from us. So why should I expect change when I pressure administration?

As much as I love my school, I want to see us moving forward and being a people of change and growth. I wish we could better live up to the slogans that we boast. What aggravates me is when our administration hides behind their commercial sayings of empowerment and independence, and tells me that I can’t wear a tank top on my dress down day. We as a school must realize that in the real world we will be challenged, like we are here, but instead of complying to the consumerist ideals, we in turn must challenge them. I want us to be a community of change, not a community of idealistic conformity.