Our personalities, speech, mannerisms, and even how we dress, are influenced by the people we encounter, as well as the environments we grow up in, specifically our school environments.
In Catholic private schools, usually, everyone wears the same uniforms and often everyone is Catholic, if not Christian. Uniforms are not uncommon or unusual in private schools, most likely implemented to give the school a reputation of being polished and well-kept. Depending on the school, there may even be rules against wearing makeup and dying your hair unnatural colors, thus barring multiple outlets of self-expression.
Whether this is meant to create unity by abolishing anything that could be perceived as different or staying true to uniformity, the creativity and self-expression of students is extinguished. A reason for this could be that the fear of self-expression could lead to the exploration of sexuality or gender, which would cause social perturbance at a religious school.
Having been in both public and private schools, I’ve been exposed to two entirely different environments. Here at Skyline, there are many students who have their own way of presenting themselves, whether that be in their mannerisms, gender, sexual identity, or even their principles and perspectives on social issues. I believe this is because we are not a school that is solely based on one religion or idea. Because of this, there is no fear that students will believe in something different than what is considered “normal”.
Being able to express ourselves is important, especially as we are growing up. Who we are as a person, and what we believe in, is going to change as we experience life. Not being able to be who you are creates an atmosphere of uncertainty and puts you at a disadvantage to grow as a person. Seeing other perspectives from a demographic of people that you are not a part of opens your mind and provides new insight into how people other than you live. When students are surrounded by people who’ve only experienced the same things as them, they become unaware and indifferent to issues that affect other people.
There are constantly new trends following the line of “this is what I looked like before quarantine, and this is what I look like after”. Because of this, I’ve had the opportunity to see how my friends and other people I know have changed over the course of our high school years and how being able to express yourself has affected them.
Because I now go to a school that is not strict about what I wear and how I think, I’ve had the opportunity to change a lot about myself. If I had stayed at my previous high school, I’d probably still have long hair that’s never been dyed and I wouldn’t have been exposed to social and political issues.
Schools that do not allow students to fully express themselves do not foster the growth of the individual.