"I love these," said Williams, looking at the clothes. "I wish they’d do this in middle school."
Now they do.
Starting this year, two middle schools county Charlotte-Mecklenburg will require students to wear approved uniforms each day, part of a growing list of schools participating in a program that started seven years ago.
Spaugh and Wilson middle schools will require male students to wear white, khaki or blue knit shirts, pants or shorts. Girls have their choice of shirts, pants or shorts, or jumpers.
The same policy is in use at 28 pre-kindergarten or elementary schools Charlotte-Mecklenburg.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools approved uniform use at the start of the 1997-98 academic year, with about a half-dozen elementary schools taking part.
Before a schools Charlotte-Mecklenburg begins requiring uniforms, a majority of parents must agree to the change. The use of uniforms has been growing consistently across the school system.
In most cases, schools in the program have a large number of students from low-income families. By wearing uniforms, school officials say, students from families who might not have the money to buy expensive clothing don’t have to worry about being "outdressed" by their peers.
The school system, parent-teacher groups or community civic organizations help buy uniforms when families cannot afford them.
For Debra Williams, a staff member at Cotswold Elementary, the appeal of uniforms is different.
"I just like them," she said. "It makes the decision-making easy for a family."
Two of her children — Danielle, a rising fifth-grader, and Erica, a rising second-grader — attend Cotswold and wear the uniforms.
The uniforms are sold at most major department stores. On average, prices range from $9 for the knit shirts to $15 for pants.
In addition to Spaugh and Wilson middle schools, these pre-kindergarten or elementary schools also require uniforms — Albemarle Road, Allenbrook, Ashley Park, Nathaniel Alexander, Briarwood, Walter G. Byers, Collinswood, Cotswold, Devonshire, Eastover Academy, First Ward, J.H. Gunn, Hidden Valley, Highland Renaissance Academy, Idlewild, Lincoln Heights, Merry Oaks, Montclaire, Nations Ford, Oakdale, Park Road, Piney Grove, Sedgefield, Shamrock Gardens, Smith Language Academy, Starmount Pre-K, Windsor Park and Winterfield.