Kids and Parents at a Baltimore Grade School Are Uniformly Opposed to Costly Kid Fashions

updated 10/12/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/12/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Once upon a time—the '60s—it was a major triumph for kids when schools dropped their dress codes and let students wear T-shirts and jeans. But when the 355 pupils at Baltimore's Cherry Hill Elementary School jostled into class this fall, they were in the vanguard of a fashion counter-counterculture: Most were proudly dressed up in uniforms. The kids, who last year gloried in every variety of Reebok, Calvin Klein and Jordache, were dressed alike willingly, if with a gentle shove from their parents. "They were too interested in clothes," says Jacqueline Powell, a day-care teacher concerned about the trend. "It had to stop."

High cost and fractiousness lay behind this dramatic change of appearance. In low-to middle-income Cherry Hill, clothes had become a costly status symbol and had even led to fights between jealous kids. To ease the tension, parents asked teacher Janice Madden to design a navy-blue jumper for girls, blue trousers, white shirt and blue clip-on tie for boys. Money from community groups and a bargain rate from a local seamstress kept the price to $30 per outfit. To show solidarity with the students, teachers plan to wear similar clothes twice a month.

So far the kids aren't complaining. "I've never seen them act like that, like little men and women," marvels principal William Howard, and even the holdouts are finding it's hip to look square. "The boys be teasing us," says Sadie Mosley, 8. "They said, 'Girl, you need a uniform!' "

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