The School Council at Newton's Oak Hill Middle School is asking students to refrain from wearing "celebratory" clothing from birthday parties, bar mtizvahs, bat mitzvahs and other weekend events after complaints that some students felt excluded.
According to a letter sent to parents, the colorful clothing is often worn on Mondays by groups of students who have attended a celebration over the weekend. The sweatshirts, sweatpants, t-shirts and other articles of clothing are usually printed with the name of the occasion and the student who was honored.
Eva Thompson, the principal at Oak Hill and council co-chair, said she had received comments from parents and teachers who were concerned that some students felt left out or hurt.
"When 50 kids come in Monday morning wearing the same thing, it's a statement," Thompson said.
The letter does not represent a policy, Thompson emphasized, and no students will be punished for wearing such clothing.
"It's really about having a conversation. We want to raise awareness that our actions, intentional or otherwise, have a message, and we should think about what that message is."
Thompson said the school would using one of its daily "community time" sessions in January to raise the conversation, which some classes have already had.
"Some kids think, 'oh, what's the big deal?' " said Thompson. "Other may not even be aware of it. And then there are some kids who kind of notice and don't say anything, because they feel like, 'I'm not a part of that group, but it's fine, I'm part of other groups.' "
Thompson acknowledged that some parents had dismissed the letter as an attempt to shield kids from the "real world."
"The intent isn't to shield them, but to raise everybody's awareness up a notch or two. I actually agree with families who think that kids need to be resilient. There are some people who are misconstruing this."
Other schools in Newton have had similar concerns, Thompson said, and at least one other school is considering drafting a similar letter.