In Westcliffe, two’s company, but three’s a gang

Brief by Central Staff

School rules – April 1997 – Colorado Central Magazine

Two’s company, three’s a gang

Parents shopping for a “gang-free” school district might want to look at Westcliffe, where they’ve got some strict rules.

For one, no more than two sixth-graders can be together on the playground during recess, unless they’re playing an organized sport.

According to Principal Jim Lucas, “in Colorado, a gang is considered to be three or more people.” At a meeting last fall for parents, Lucas said any sixth-graders caught in groups of three or more would get detention.

Custer kids should also be careful how they dress. Dorothy Grochowski, dean of students, said student clothes are “getting wider and wider and baggier and baggier,” and that a state education department official had told her these baggy pants are gang symbolism. She also noted that wallet chains are getting too long for comfort, too.

Grochowski said she was concerned that the gang mentality begins with clothes and then the mind starts to follow.

Maybe we’re showing our age here, but as we remember our school days, if you didn’t run around with lots of other kids at recess, you were considered “anti-social,” and they called your folks and asked if you had a problem.

As for dress codes, in our day it was tight clothes that generated trips to the office. Gangs then were like the Sharks and Jets in West Side Story — guys in tight jeans and T-shirts. Tight clothes were also considered provocative.

But Custer County school authorities may be onto something here. If “gang clothes” lead to a “gang mentality” in students, then other outfits should lead to other outcomes.

Require red suspenders and power outfits, and perhaps they’ll all network via cell phones during recess. High steel-toe boots and helmets will put them into the mines, perhaps. And rumpled suits, combined with shoes but no socks, should produce a generation of Einsteins.