Autumn in the North Cemetery.

Sixty miles west of Boston, Massachusetts there is the small New England town of Sturbridge. Located at the junction of I-90 (The Mass Pike), and I-84 it has become known as the "Crossroads of New England". The town was first settled over 300 years ago, and like other small New England towns it has grown just enough over the years to be in a difficult place today. How do we embrace the future without forgetting how we got to our present? How do we attract the right kind of growth, and maintain who we are? And, what about our culture out here in Central Massachusetts?

These pages will cause one to think about how to protect what we have, our future direction, and how to move on in the very best way.

Those thoughts, and other ramblings, will hopefully inspire more thought, conversation, action, and occasionally a smile...

...seems to be working so far

Friday, April 30, 2010

This, Too, Will Pass, It Always Does

In 1968, when I entered my first year of high school, the assistant principal would actually use a ruler to measure the distance from a girls knee cap to the hem of their skirt. If he found that the number exceeded what had been established as a non-distractive distance, then the girl would be sent home to change. Most often it only required rolling down the top of their skirt to meet the safety distance. There was some secret number the distance could not be more than. I am sure the girls were aware of the number, but as a boy, I only wished the number was huge. As a teenager in high school, one prays for distraction in whatever form. Recently, a similar anti-distraction rule was proposed by the Tantasqua School Committee member, Fran Simanski, and it did not pass.

I understand why the rule was proposed, and no I do not think that Fran Simanski is a "righ-wing" fanatic, or some moral compass. Sometimes when one observes something that could be better, one proposes a change, and sometimes that proposal is received as being worse than the behavior one wants to correct.

I know, it is strange.

In this case it is just one of those things that folks in power, such as the principal, and teachers, need to handle on an individual basis. Once attention is drawn to clothing styles, methods of wearing them, and the behaviors surrounding the "distraction" it will elevate the behavior to a level not considered. The assistant principal at my high school found this out after a couple of years. When he gave up, the girls gave up trying to break records, and besides, by that time, skirts gave way to blue jeans.

No, I don't think that turtlenecks will become more fasionable now if a rule against cleavage is not written, but when handled individually, quietly, and without a supportive audience, it can be very effective.

Evolutionary correction. Something always comes along to correct a behavior, or trend, when it has gone all the way to one end of the scale. Folks always look for some other social expectation to bend.

This, too, shall pass.

Now, be on the lookout for the next trend, that one could be really scary.

By Laura Crimaldi | Thursday, April 29, 2010 | | Local Coverage

The Central Massachusetts school official who unsuccessfully proposed banning cleavage at a regional junior high school said today that he only made the suggestion to minimize classroom distractions.

“My personal experience in the classroom and supervising the classroom was that exposed cleavage was distracting to students in the classroom. As a result, I just thought I’d bring it up,” said school committee member Fran Simanski of the Tantasqua district, which serves students from Brimfield, Sturbridge, Wales, Holland and Brookfield. “I have zero interest in being any kind of moral compass.”

The Tantasqua School Committee yesterday shot down Simanski’s proposal to ban cleavage along with bare midriffs and exposed underwear, which are already forbidden in the Tantasqua Regional Junior High School handbook, said Principal Jennifer Lundwall.

Lundwall said she opposed the measure because she did not want to single out students, in this case girls, in the dress code. She said the 600 students at the school rarely wear cleavage-baring clothes. When they do, under a “strict” policy, the student is told to put a top over the revealing dress, change into something more appropriate or spend the day in school suspension, she said.

“We have a pretty lock-solid approach,” Lundwall said. “To think that putting language in a handbook would stop children from making bad wardrobe choices is not realistic.”

Simanski made the proposal while members were discussing a plan to add language to the school handbook to tighten restrictions on attire that references drugs and other troubling advertising. That proposal prevailed, but the cleavage measure was rejected in a 7-5 vote.

Simanski said he would only propose the cleavage ban again if his constituents request it, and complained that he’s being trashed online and portrayed as a “right-wing fanatic.”

“I’m a lifelong educator,” said Simanski, a retiree who worked for 39 years as a teacher and administrator in Massachusetts and Connecticut, “who is just interested in trying to eliminate distraction in the classroom.”


  1. I guess my only concern is if the teachers and adminstrators are the ones who enforce a dress code that it be fairly administered. When I was in shool there were always favorites who may have been allowed more lattitude than others.
    My next question is: How long until someparent sues the school district for discrimination when his or her daughter is spoken to? It will happen.

  2. You are right, there are always those that have the rules stretched and bent for them. As long as there is some type of dress code, then there should not be any parental screaming if a child is spoken to, cleavage or no cleavage, but parents are a quirky bunch, and who knows?

  3. If Lundwall says girls rarely wear low cut tops she must be blind.

  4. What is wrong with dress codes.... we all have to follow them in the real world, work, church, organizations...hanging out at grandma's. The opinions that this would single girls out.... well only girls have breasts... think about that... Is this Discrimnation or Boundaries... . It will be tough on the kids in classes now, because it is a change... but they will move on and upward into the high school. The real reason parents and teachers do not want this is because they do not want to have to enforce this rule. There is a place for low tops and it is not in the schools as our students are there to learn how to focus on what is important..... I can not believe that the committee voted this down... this is a style or does the committee want this to become a way of life for our students. Come into the real world as there are dress codes depending on the place and time. And please give me a break if these girls can not comprehend or feel the draft.. this is a simple rule .... why should it be an issue. Why are we not protecting our girls from poor choices or low cut tops. I guess most of the committee members want more entertainers not business women.

  5. If the proposed ban were passed, then Principal Lundwall would have to stop wearing some of her own low-cut tops!


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