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Martinsville Middle Schoolers dress for success
Formal wear a daily habit for three students
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Seventh-graders Michael Richardson (from left), Luis Romero and Rayshaun Gravely pose recently outside Martinsville Middle School. (Contributed photo)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

By KIM BUCK - Special to the Bulletin

For three Martinsville seventh-graders, dressing up isn’t just for special occasions.

Many Martinsville Middle School students recently wore formal clothes to school for “Dress for Success” day, which took place during a special week of activities and themed days revolving around showing respect for oneself and others.

However, for Luis Romero, Rayshaun Gravely and Michael Richardson, wearing a coat and tie to class is part of their daily routine.

On a recent typical school day, all three were dressed to the nines in suits and shiny leather dress shoes. Luis wore a black suit coat, gray slacks, blue bow tie and matching handkerchief; Michael wore a long black suit coat, purple slacks and matching necktie; and Rayshaun wore a black pinstriped suit with necktie and handkerchief.

“When I’m putting on a tie and a shirt, I try to match as much as possible,” said Romero, who was the first to make it a daily habit in the sixth grade. He added that he has worn jeans to school only once this year.

“I’ve always liked dressing up. I do like regular clothes, but they don’t suit me as well. I like looking better and for people to think better of me,” Luis said.

Rayshaun and Michael joined him in dressing formally this school year.

“I like wearing a suit,” said Gravely, who is vice president of the school’s Student Council Association.

All three said being Christians influenced their decision to always wear formal clothes. Richardson and Gravely are in a gospel group, “and you can’t walk around (with your pants) sagging,” Richardson said. “When I wear a suit, I stand out. I like the compliments.”

None of them like the fashion trend of boys letting their pants sag. “I think there should be a fine,” Gravely said. “We have important visitors in this school. If kids have their pants sagging, it doesn’t look good for the school.”

“Martinsville Middle School is supposed to be a School to Watch,” Romero said, referencing the state education award the school received last year. “We can’t be a School to Watch if people don’t respect themselves and others.”

“A first impression counts,” Richardson added.

The boys enjoy making a positive impression. “I get a lot of hugs in the halls,” Romero said. “We get lots of compliments every single day.”

How someone dresses can influence how they act, the boys said. Guidance counselor Stephanie Adkins, who helped organize “Dress for Success” day, agreed. “We’ve got really good kids,” she said, but on dress-up days, “the children’s behavior is even better. That day, they just put a little pep in their step.”

Of the three boys, Adkins said, “everybody definitely notices how they’re dressed. They’re such a positive influence.”

“I don’t ever act up,” Gravely added.

Richardson admitted he acts up sometimes but said dressing up makes “you want to be on the appropriate side” and “try harder.”

He added that at a parent-teacher conference, a teacher said he “dressed professionally; that makes you feel good.”

Dress clothes add a bit more time to their daily routine, but it’s worth it, the students agreed. “It’s a little more work, because you have to take care of your clothes,” Romero said.

“I get up about 10 minutes earlier,” Rayshaun said, and he wears “a little extra cologne” when he dresses up.

Michael picks out his suits the night before and makes sure they are ironed. All three said they do their own ironing.

The boys don’t just dress up for school — all three said they continue the habit on evenings and weekends.

“At home, I don’t wear a tie,” Romero said, but he keeps the rest of the outfit on. “When I go to stores, I’m also dressed up.”

“When you go to a restaurant or something, you’ve got to wear something appropriate,” Richardson said.

With Luis, Rayshaun and Michael’s future career plans, they may keep wearing suits for years to come.

“I want to be a preacher and a counselor,” Gravely said.

Richardson said he would become a preacher “if God call me to be,” but “politics is pretty cool, too.”

Romero said he wants to be an actor, but he also might want to pursue his interest in history. No matter which field he chooses, he said, “One of my goals is to help Martinsville. I might want to be the mayor someday.”

(Editor’s note: Kim Buck is community outreach and grants coordinator for the Martinsville Schools.)


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