January 20, 2011 in Washington Voices

Teens shun winter wear in coldest of conditions

By The Spokesman-Review
 
PHOTOS BY J. BART RAYNIAK photo

U-Hi sophomores Emerald Charbonneau and Megan Randles, both 16, shiver in 10-degree weather while waiting for a ride Jan. 10.
(Full-size photo)(All photos)

The sun was shining, but the temperature was anything but vernal. The thermometer was down to a frigid 20 degrees while the wind chill factor turned it into a bone-shivering 9 degrees.

Most people spending any time outside were bundled up in coats, scarves, gloves and hats.

Except for students around area schools. Why is it they refuse to wear coats and even sometimes wander through the snow wearing shorts?

University High School freshmen Kyle Bender, 15, and Daniel Martin, 16, were wearing long basketball shorts outside the school earlier this month and were preparing to walk home, even though they insisted it wasn’t far.

“It’s really comfortable,” Bender said. He said he usually wears shorts to school, but sometimes he wears sweats, but they were in the laundry.

The two are on the freshman basketball team and said they do dress up on game day, but any other day of the week they are dressed down.

Hailie Christensen, 16, said she refuses to wear a coat because she really doesn’t like winter. Beyond lacking a coat, she was sporting fashionable jeans with holes in the knees. She said the cold seemed to be coming from the wind and she didn’t spend too much time outside.

Her friend Kayla Snider, 14, said she usually refuses to wear a coat because she doesn’t like the way they look, although that day she was wearing a thin one.

“Her mom probably forced her to put one on this morning,” Christensen said.

Snider also said coats don’t fit in her locker so she doesn’t have a place to put them.

Sophomore Megan Randles, 16, said she doesn’t wear a coat since she doesn’t spend much time outside. She waits inside the school foyer until her ride pulls up to the school.

“I usually get a ride every day,” she said.

Her friend Emerald Charbonneau, 16, said she had a coat, but she put it in Randles’ backpack.

“It’s warm inside,” she said.

Freshman Brooklyn Hall, 14, was wearing a flannel shirt without a coat.

“It was warmer this morning,” she said. “I thought the flannel would be enough.” She added that she usually does wear a coat and wished she had brought it.

Freshman Kenzie Clark, 15, rushed out of the school without her coat to catch a ride.

“I have one in my backpack,” she said. “I’m just in a hurry.”

“I consider shorts and T-shirt the middle school uniform,” said Heather Graham, school nurse at Greenacres Middle School, Greenacres Elementary School and Liberty Lake Elementary.

She said she sees more eighth-graders than sixth-graders forgetting their coats and wearing shorts. She figures the eighth-graders probably feel a little more independent than the younger students.

“Will it make them more susceptible to having a cold? The jury is still out on that,” she said. She noted that when the wind chill factor brings the temperature down, there is a chance for frostbite or hypothermia if one is exposed to the cold for a considerable amount of time.

And as a parent of a freshman in high school, she said she feels good if she can get her child to wear a sweatshirt on the way out the door.

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