The student news site of Clayton High School.

The Globe

The student news site of Clayton High School.

The Globe

The student news site of Clayton High School.

The Globe

Wardrobe malfunction

After wardrobe classes were abruptly canceled this year, the course’s future is in limbo.

In a perfect world, that’s not the way decisions [should be made],” -Louise Losos, CHS Principal

Wardrobe classes are not being offered at CHS for the second year in a row, and it is quite possible that the class will be permanently discontinued – despite what appeared to be heightened student interest in fashion in recent years. Wardrobe classes were put on hold last year due to construction and the retirement of the Family and Consumer Science (FACS) teacher. The new wing has a state of the art wardrobe studio, but this year it will be empty, probably used only for meetings and storage.

With wardrobe cancelled this year, the state of the art room in the new wing will be empty. (Paul Lisker)
With wardrobe cancelled this year, the state of the art room in the new wing will be empty. (Paul Lisker)

It was the general consensus among Career and Technical Education (CTE) teachers that wardrobe would indeed return this year – students even signed up for the class last winter. But months later it was decided that wardrobe would be cut for yet another year.

CHS Principal Louise Losos said that the decision was made in a “quick fashion” and mostly at the district level. Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning, Dottie Barbeau, said that the decision was a collective one, made at a staffing allocation meeting that included district leaders: then-Superintendent Mary Herrmann, now-Superintendent Sharmon Wilkinson, Barbeau and Losos. According to then-CTE Department Chair Nancy Freeman, there was no input from the curriculum committee, which usually makes curriculum decisions.

The decision to cut wardrobe came as a surprise to business teacher Marci Boland, who is now CTE Department Chair.

“It wasn’t one that we were thinking was going to be on the chopping block,” Boland said.

After all, more than enough students signed up for the class to make it viable.

Freeman said that in the beginning of last school year she urged the administration to advertise the opening for a FACS teacher that included wardrobe, but she was told that staffing decisions first had to be made. If anything, Freeman said, the decision to keep or discontinue wardrobe should have been made when the new building was being planned so as to avoid wasting taxpayer money on a room that won’t be used.

Losos acknowledged the lack of transparency in the decision.

“In a perfect world, that’s not the way decisions [should be made],” Losos said. “The process did not go as smoothly as it should have.”

The CTE curriculum is under review this year, and the curriculum committee will be studying many aspects of CTE classes. An outside consultant visited CHS last year and filed a report of recommendations that the committee will use in their study. The curriculum committee could recommend that wardrobe be permanently eliminated from CTE offerings.

Barbeau said that the administration did not want to start wardrobe classes and buy new equipment the year before the curriculum would be under review.

“We could potentially have had a group of kids who would be starting and not continuing, or if you start a group, then you’re committed to moving those kids through,” Barbeau said.

The same logic was not applied to culinary arts, which will be starting up again this year after being put on hold last year due to construction. Maybe that is because of the sensationally lavish – and sensationally expensive – culinary arts room in the new wing. A vast, professional-grade kitchen would look much worse left empty than a wardrobe room.

And not only is culinary arts being resumed this year – it is getting an entirely new curriculum. Thus, it seems that what Barbeau wanted to avoid with wardrobe has happened in culinary arts: the curriculum committee will be compelled to keep culinary arts as is, so as not to have wasted so much time and money.

Barbeau said that part of the reason culinary arts will resume this year while wardrobe does not is that more students enrolled for culinary arts than wardrobe last winter. This may be due to the excitement surrounding the new kitchen, and it does not necessarily translate to increased student interest in culinary arts as a profession. In fact, college counselor Carolyn Blair said that two thirds more CHS graduates study fashion or wardrobe in college than study culinary arts.

Freeman said it seemed to her that the administration made the decision based more on preconceived notions and assumptions about the wardrobe program than actual data.

As for why both wardrobe and culinary arts weren’t brought back this year, Losos said that a new FACS teacher has been hired, Lauren Battram. Battram is very young, and they did not want to overwhelm her by giving her two new curriculums to create and teach. Battram is fully qualified to teach wardrobe as well as culinary arts.

For now, Fashion Club will serve as substitute for actual wardrobe classes, and Battram will be the sponsor. But this is not a sustainable solution. It works well when there are students who have taken wardrobe classes in the past and are therefore highly skilled in sewing, but those students will soon graduate. Whereas DECA has business classes associated with it, Fashion Club would be just that – a club.

“Without a class for students to learn the basics, it’s extremely difficult,” said former FACS teacher Linda Williams. “And a club is just not going to do that.”

Caroline Kennard (12), who has taken wardrobe classes and was in Fashion Club last year, agreed – she said Fashion Club would not work as a permanent replacement for wardrobe classes.

The quality and complexity of the work done in a club would certainly not be the same as a class, and it is hard to imagine CHS graduates going on to prestigious fashion schools such as Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising – as they have in the past – without a fully operational wardrobe class at the high school.

There are other problems with the idea of a club substitute. Due to the intrinsic drama of high school, it is not as inclusive as a class – Williams said that, by her judgment, only a third of the students who were skilled enough to be involved in last year’s fashion show participated. And Battram said that to apply for grants for money and equipment she needs to have an approved FACS program. Without something like wardrobe class, she won’t be eligible.

For now, wardrobe class’s future hangs in limbo. It may be reinstated next year, or it may be discontinued and “replaced” by a club. Boland, among many others, is concerned.

“The longer you keep a class out of the program of studies, then the less likely it is to come back,” she said.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Globe
$50
$2000
Contributed
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists of Clayton High School. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Globe
$50
$2000
Contributed
Our Goal

Comments (0)

The Globe intends for this area to be used to foster healthy, thought-provoking discussion. Comments are expected to adhere to our standards and to be respectful and constructive. As such, we do not permit the use of profanity, foul language, personal attacks, or the use of language that might be interpreted as libelous. Comments are reviewed and must be approved by a moderator to ensure that they meet these standards. The Globe does not allow anonymous comments, and The Globe requires a valid email address. The email address will not be displayed but will be used to confirm your comments.
All The Globe Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Activate Search
The student news site of Clayton High School.
Wardrobe malfunction