While diagramming sentences and dividing fractions are still far from students’ thoughts, you can be sure they already have their eyes on the most fashionable clothes and shoes, along with the most up-to-date binders, notebooks, calculators, computers and e-readers to make certain they start the new school year in style.
At a recent meeting with about 150 soon-to-be seventh graders at a local middle school, the pre-teens let me know that whether they are in elementary, middle or high school, the top items on most students’ back-to-school list are new sneakers – and jeans. And to satisfy them, stores will be offering a variety of denim cuts and styles, and sneakers in bright colors and prints in the most popular style.
Skateboard-style shoes will continue to be popular said the students. These include the shoes known to kids as “Chucks” (because Chuck Taylor is printed around the star) and known to parents as Converse All Stars. But while the familiar white and black versions of this shoe will still be around, kids looking to express their individuality will be able to choose from similar styles covered with their favorite cartoon characters, animal prints, camouflage and even sequins. Also included in this style is the Adidas Campus shoe, which will be a focus of the back-to-school look at Kids Footlocker. The Adidas Campus shoe will be found in bright pops of color.
In past years, the halls of local schools were filled with students all sporting the same style of jean, no matter how comfortable or uncomfortable, suitable or unsuitable for their body type. This school year students will find a wide range of cuts of denim, so they will be sure to find the right one for them. “From skinny to a re-emerging flare, fall is a great time to pick up the latest, must-have denim styles,” says Kristy Welker of Target. This month, Target will debut Denizen, a new line of denim options for the whole family. Denizen is a result of a partnership between Target and Levi’s, Welker says.
Along with denim, the layered look – beginning with a T-shirt and working out to a jacket – will be important to all school-age children this year, say representatives of several area stores. This fall will bring a couple of fun, cute trends for the pre-teen group, says Lindy Matej, store manager for Justice at The Rim. The looks will be fresh takes on the past. To start, look for vintage and ’70s-inspired clothes. For the ’70s look, girls will start with bright solids and then layer florals and other prints on top. Topping off the look will be bright colored faux fur vests. The layered look will also be seen this fall in stores such as Target, where the look starts with leggings and builds with T-shirts paired with vests, tunics and jackets.
Parents should take time to check their school district’s or school’s dress code before going shopping for new clothes, agreed officials from San Antonio, Northside and Harlandale school districts. This will ensure that they will get good use out of the clothes they are buying. And, districts have made it easy for parents to check dress codes. Most districts now have their Student Code of Conduct available online through district websites. “The general rule is anything that a principal considers distracting will not be allowed. That includes hairstyles and clothing,” said Pascual Gonzalez, executive director of communications for Northside School District.
Whether it’s on folders, binders, spiral notebooks, pencils, or pencil pouches, back-to-school aisles will be filled with color. At office supply store Staples, students will find plenty of bold patterns and florals, music and sports-related graphics, as well as symbols meant to inspire, such as peace signs. Socially conscious students will find a way to make a statement with everything from paper, folders and binders to calculators made from recycled paper and plastics. Target reports students will see bright pops of color such as turquoise, lime green and hot pink, plaid, floral and camouflage on everything from notebooks and backpacks to rulers. Store representatives also report that beyond color, backpacks both carried and rolling, and messenger bags of all sizes, will be on every student’s list.
Staples’ Do Something line of school supplies is dressed in vibrant designs meant to inspire young people to get involved in their communities and work for positive changes. “In addition to the cool external designs, these products include background on social issues and tips on how students can make a difference,” said Staples representatives. The designs for the Do Something line come from a nationwide youth contest. This line is part of the Staples for Students Campaign, which invites teens to collect school supplies from July 3 through Sept. 17 and take them to Staples stores to be donated to local educational not-for-profit organizations.
One of the biggest trends at schools and in school supplies, say area teachers and district personnel, is toward the use of more technology. Nora Lugo is coordinator of a new effort bringing more technology to classes in the Harlandale School District. Parents should check their district’s or school’s back-to-school supply list, Lugo says. But while most technology is supplied by schools for use in classes, having similar resources at home can be a big help to students, Lugo says.
Among the technology being used at school, especially in the upper grade levels, are laptop, notebook and tablet-type computers, e-readers and flash drives, and stores are showing a variety of these this back-to-school season.
Tablet computers are the latest in high technology and a great companion to a desktop or laptop computer for students in high school and college. Uses include note taking, quick web searches and for staying organized, say Staples representatives. And while the standard black calculator will still be available, students will be able to choose from everything – from sparkle covered to sports shaped and to flexible calculators to meet their individual styles and needs. Student will also be able to choose from a wide variety of shapes, colors and characters when choosing a flash drive to keep all their hard work safely saved.
Gina Vera is a middle school teacher, freelance writer and mother of one.