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Dressing down for charity at TAHS

Of what value are clothes anyway?
Critics of formal fashion warn that wolves come in sheep’s clothing and that only fools are duped by the Emperor’s new clothes. On the other hand, formal dress code advocates see at least some superficial truth in the adage that clothes “make the man.” Billionaire J.P. Morgan, for one, is said to have looked like a butcher in a Turkish bath, but with his three-piece suit, polished shoes and pocket watch he commanded respect.
While few would argue that the way we dress is unimportant, most agree that dressing down is a good idea whenever it comes to a good cause. That has been the credo of the Tyrone Area Education Association, which has gone casual over the past five years to raise over $18,000 for local charities and for individuals in need.
According to Dress Down Day organizer Laura Harris, “Dress Down Days encourage teachers and staff members to wear jeans twice a month in exchange for a two dollar donation to a predetermined charity.” Beneficiaries of these days include the Tyrone/Snyder Public Library, Tyrone food Bank, Tyrone Hospital Auxiliary and Care-Car Program, Tyrone Area Cooperative Ministries, Epworth Manor, Tyrone Arts Council and the American Cancer Society among others.
Harris stresses that dress down days are organized to help individuals in need — community members with loved ones recovering from serious accidents, house fires, or illnesses. She points also to future plans to expand beneficiaries throughout the county, state and nation to include causes like WFBG’s Christmas Carol Foundation, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, the Pennsylvania Humane Society, the American Red Cross and the American Heart Association.
“There are educational benefits to dressing down as well,” said English teacher Steve Everhart. “When people feel relaxed, they think more clearly and smile more readily. Both of these are intangibles that lead to more effective teaching. Fortune 500 companies as well as many local businesses latched on to this idea during the nineties. Take MeadWestvaco in nearby Alexandria, for example. There, ties are optional. Managers and supervisors wear jeans every Friday.”
Veteran Chemistry teacher Dan Albright concurs, “Students relate more readily to more experienced teachers if they appear less intimidating — and suits and ties intimidate a lot of teens. Dress down days help to bridge that generational gap in a small way.”
When itcomes to dress, it seems what’s good for business is a good for education. It’s not the vest but the heart behind it that counts. In case of the Tyrone Area Education Association, that heart is one that has given back to the community in measureable ways.