High school students at Pathways Middle College are no longer incognito on the OCCC campus. Their uniforms give them away.
Until this year, the Oklahoma City public school students tucked away in classrooms on the third floor of the Main building have blended in with the college students sharing the same space and sometimes even the same classes.
In March, the Oklahoma City School Board voted in favor of a policy that requires all students in the Oklahoma City public school district to wear uniforms.
Pathways Principal Carol Brogan had mixed emotions about the vote, but she wanted her students to be involved from day one. The students were able to approve the uniform design and help pick out the colors.
“I asked the community college… to help us design our T-shirts,” Brogan said. “The kids liked the design and we went forward with it.”
The front of the T-shirts features the Pathways mascot, a panther, and the OCCC logo, “because it’s a partnership,” Brogan said.
“There was grumbling initially,” Brogan said, “but I think they have come to realize…they have something they can wear that they are comfortable with.”
The “campus casual” style has been retained in the uniforms, students said.
“They are pretty lenient,” said Daniel Prieto, a sophomore at Pathways. “We don’t have to tuck them in.”
Pathways students also are allowed to wear dark colored jeans or khakis, but they can’t have holes in them.
“We wear basically just normal jeans, but they can’t really be cut,” explained Javier Merendon, another Pathways sophomore.
Both Prieto and Merendon said they were originally opposed to the uniform policy, but agree it’s not such a big deal now.
The uniform T-shirts come in red, black or white with the Pathways logo on them, Brogan said. They come in T-shirts, long-sleeved T-shirts, sweatshirts and zip-up hoodies.
Pathways Middle College students benefit tremendously from their partnership with OCCC, Brogan said. “I cannot thank the college enough for that.”
“Our students get so much because of our relationship with the community college,” Brogan said. “They benefit socially, they benefit economically.”
The staff at Pathways are dedicated to preparing their students for college.
“We work really, really hard to help our students to be able to walk into a college classroom and be successful,” Brogan said. Many of the seniors and some of the juniors take college classes while in high school.
Pathways students are required to participate in 32 volunteer hours per year. Graduating seniors who have been with Pathways since eighth grade will have accumulated 160 hours of community service.
On average, at least 85 percent of students who graduate from Pathways go on to attend college. Last year, Pathways students had a 99 percent graduation rate and many of the students are first generation high school graduates in their family, Brogan said.
Juniors and seniors have the option of taking college courses if they meet the academic requirements. Passing a college class empowers students and teaches them they must be responsible for their own education, Brogan said.
Pathways students work hard to be successful in their studies.
“[My] students are phenomenal,” Brogan said. “Then again, my staff is too…I’ve got staff members that believe the same thing I do: Every kid can make it and can do well.”
Even if the students are more visible in their Pathways school uniforms, they are still part of the college atmosphere.
For more information, call 405-682-7840.