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Wardrobe for Wildcats helps dress up Semitropic students

Semitropic School students wear uniforms to school. This can be a financial hardship for some families. Recognizing this pressing need, teacher Melody Gebhardt started the "Wardrobe for Wildcats" project.

"We are seeking donations from local community members with the ultimate goal of providing two full uniforms, a school t-shirt and a school sweatshirt to each Semitropic School student for the 2024-25 school year," Gebhardt said.

There are over 160 students. Each uniform costs about $80. Gebhardt is hoping to raise $15,000 to cover the costs. Donations efforts have so far been focused on businesses. Some of the businesses that have donated include Strata Credit Union, Poso Creek Dairy, Primex Farms, Creative Builders, J2 Trucking and Shear Designs.

The student uniform dress code has been in effect for over 20 years. "It was implemented for multiple reasons," Gebhardt said. "One is to help with economic disparities, so you can't tell if one student's family has more money than another. It also provides a sense of community and self-respect amongst the students.

"There is also a level of security knowing who belongs on campus and who doesn't via the uniforms."

Semitropic School is the only public school in the Wasco area whose students wear uniforms.

Over 90% of Semitropic School's student families are low-income, which makes the fundraising effort all the more important. "Every child in our community is worth investing in, and this project is a way that residents in Wasco and surrounding towns can help support kids."

Gebhardt said that as community members have learned about the project, many have expressed a desire to donate, which is very encouraging. She hopes that that interest will grow so they can meet their goal.

Gebhardt would like to convey the message to those who may not fully understand the importance of school uniforms and how they will help their students; she said: "In today's world when so much emphasis is put on appearance, uniforms help bring back the focus on school spirit, education and self-respect."

All donations will directly benefit students at Semitropic School and are tax deductible, Gebhardt said.

Donations are being accepted at the school, 25300 Hwy 46. For more information, call 661-758-6412.


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