BENTON-STEPHENS: Students sport uniforms for Benton Elementary spirit day

Friday, October 21, 2011 | 4:11 p.m. CDT
Taichi Hogg, Kelli Fletcher, Taylor Harbour, and Peyton Hopkins, first graders at Benton Elementary School, share books with each other on the first Uniform Day on Friday, Oct. 21. Hogg wore his soccer uniform, and Fletcher wore her Girl Scout apron. Uniform day will become a monthly event at Benton.

COLUMBIA — A doctor and two Cub Scouts walked into the media center at Benton Elementary School.

What sounds like a variation on a "guy walks into a bar" joke is actually a scene from Benton's first Uniform Day on Friday. A twist on the weekly Spirit Day, students were told they could wear any uniform of their choice, from Cub Scout shirt to professional and military gear.

Not all students wore uniforms Friday, but the main hallway was sprinkled with colorful get-up — a soldier (complete with canteen, camouflage jacket and hat), Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, football and soccer players, and a white-coated physician, stethoscope and all. 

Fourth-grader Nautica Swearngin wore her red vest from the Awana club to school, the only student in Muhammad Bilal's class to wear a uniform. The Awana club is an arm of the international evangelical non-profit group that teaches children about the Bible.

Bilal said he thought a number of things contributed to the low participation in his class. He said the students may have missed the announcement or  might not be involved in anything requiring a uniform.

"(My group's) personalities are just like that — some things I thought they'd jump on,  they didn't, other they did," Bilal said. "This is just one of those things they didn't."

Principal Troy Hogg said Fridays are always school spirit days, where students wear school shirts or school colors. Some Fridays have specific themes, such as Crazy Sock Day or Hat Day.

The idea for Uniform Day came when Hogg was at a Cub Scout meeting. One of the parents suggested giving the troop a chance to dress in their uniforms at school. If the Cub Scouts could dress in their uniforms, Hogg said, everyone should be given the chance.

"It's a really good community-building activity," Hogg said. "It's kind of Uniform Day for uniformity, that we all fit together."

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