MARIETTA - Some area schools have altered their dress codes in an effort to convey just how short shorts can be.
At Marietta High School, shorts and skirts should be knee-length, according to the latest handbook. That standard replaces the previous "fingertip" test in which the garments were required to be below a student's fingertips when he or she had their arms extended toward their knees.
Principal Bill Lee said the new rule is more uniform.
"Fingertips vary from people to people," he said.
"School's a place of business, and that's something we try to promote," Lee said. "This is not a movie of the week. This is not a reality show like the Kardashians."
Sophomore Katlyn Rake said she has no problem with a dress code, but thinks the new shorts rule goes too far, literally.
"It's so hot when you have to wear knee-length shorts and the school doesn't have air conditioning," she said.
Rake's mother Nikki, 35, of Devola, also disagrees with the requirement.
"I wouldn't mind purchasing them if it was actually possible," she said. "Kids that have long slender legs will never find shorts that reach their knees."
Lee said most students have not had trouble finding shorts that comply with the rule.
Katlyn said she would prefer the fingertip rule, something that is in effect at Frontier High School. She also said students wearing much shorter skirts aren't held to the same standard.
Lee said the rule applies to skirts and shorts equally, but likened enforcing the policy to enforcing the speed limit - a person isn't caught every time they drive too fast.
"Do we get everybody every day? No," he said. "Are we going to try to continue to embed the dress code? Yes."
Any student violating the dress code is given a chance to change or have other garments brought from home, Lee said. If they refuse, that becomes a matter of insubordination and they could face detention.
"I've had to remind a few, but they've complied with the regulations," Lee said.
At the beginning of August, Belpre High School Principal Dennis Eichinger sent out letters explaining changes to the school's dress code, including a shorts policy meant to be understandable for everyone.
"We wanted to identify an acceptable visual length, so we're going with Bermuda-style," he said. "We're looking at something that universally fits everyone."
Fort Frye High School has used the Bermuda/cargo-length standard for the last couple of years.
So far, Belpre students have reacted well to the change, occasionally asking questions to make sure they're following the rules, Eichinger said.
Other changes included requiring cap sleeves on shirts to prevent too much of a student's anatomy from showing. Previously, the requirement was for straps to be a minimum of two inches.
Waterford High School altered its policy on shorts and skirts last year, going from the fingertip rule to requiring the fabric to be at least as low as 4 inches above the crease of the knee. Some female teachers have volunteered to do the measuring if there is any dispute, Principal Randy Shrider said.
Students can't have any holes in their pants above the 4-inches-above-the-crease-of-the-knee mark either, which represents another change in the policy since previously the school prohibited any holes in pants.
"We've kind of, I guess, mellowed on that," Shrider laughed.
The change was simply a result of changing styles, he said. The same thing happened with flip-flops, which were not allowed at all when Shrider became principal in 2002.
"You try to figure out whether that battle's worth fighting or not," he said.
Shrider said his concern about flip-flops was one of safety, but he could only immediately recall one student falling as a result of wearing the popular shoes.
Marietta Middle School's dress code forbids the wearing of flip-flops. At the high school, it's recommended students not wear them, but they aren't prohibited.