Respect the Plaid Skirt

Last month, I attended the funeral of my mother’s friend Muriel Elizabeth Wicks Escobar, a former Spanish and French teacher at Hockaday. As I waited for the service to begin, I saw a couple pointing over in my direction and smiling. I looked away immediately, embarrassed as I assumed they were discussing how I was wearing my Hockaday uniform instead of the typical funeral attire. A few minutes later, I was startled when the man tapped me on the shoulder.

The man, Francisco Escobar, was Muriel’s son. My green and white plaid skirt, which was luckily of an appropriate length, had reminded him of his mother. He complimented me on my uniform, telling me how happy and proud he was that a Hockaday girl was at the funeral.

In his eulogy, he spoke of the impact Hockaday had on Muriel and how much she loved educating the girls. There were no other teachers or students from Hockaday at the funeral, and by simply wearing that green-and-white plaid, I had become a representative of Hockaday, serving as a reminder of the time Muriel spent at the school. It didn’t matter that she hadn’t taught me specifically, the skirt I wore represented the entire school.

Up until that moment, I had underestimated the power of the Hockaday skirt. To me, it had been just a portion of my over-worn uniform, and a comfortable one at that. I had never taken much care of my skirt, doodling on it in Sharpie and using a stapler to even out the hemline during class. I can’t remember ever folding it or making sure it didn’t get any stains on it; instead, it was shoved to the bottom of a smelly sports bag every day.

I had been so embarrassed of standing out from the crowd in my plaid skirt, while Francisco had paid me so much respect and admiration for it. I now understand why teachers lecture us about how a simple, green-and-white plaid skirt can show so much about Hockaday. The skirt we wear every day is an icon, and how we choose to wear that skirt influences the reputation the school has.

To us, our skirt is just a skirt. But the presence of Hockaday is somehow woven into the plaid. The skirt sets us apart. We are automatically recognized in public and associated with Hockaday because of that plaid print, becoming symbols for our school and the cornerstones it stands for. There is a stature that we represent by wearing our skirts, one often forgotten about, because of how typical the Hockaday skirt has become to us. Pulling on that plaid skirt over our knees each day has more meaning than we seem to realize. It symbolizes all of the values that Ela Hockaday founded our school upon, setting ourselves apart from the world as we, too, become representatives of our school. When we pull on those skirts, we become imbued with the spirit of Hockaday, held to higher standards and capable of so much more.

If our skirt has the power to remind a son of his mother’s joy for teaching at the school, I think we should all try to understand the influence it has and the respect it deserves. Yes, it’s a skirt. But our school and its history has transformed it to mean so much more than that. So let’s carry on the tradition of wearing it with pride and not forget how each one of us is a part of Hockaday’s image.

– Charlsea Lamb