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Uniforms: It's what all Grand Rapids students are -- or will be -- wearing

Grand Rapids Public Schools

When Grand Rapids Public Schools students head back to class after the Labor Day holiday, many of them will be wearing uniforms for the first time.

The school board approved a plan last year to phase-in district-wide school uniform requirements.

This year it's kindergarten through eighth grade; next year all middle schools will comply with policy and all high schools will require uniforms beginning with in the 2015-16 school year.

John Helmholdt is the district's spokesman.

He says the eight Grand Rapids schools that already required uniforms have shown better grades, less bullying and a better school climate.

"When they're wearing that uniform and it's got their school logo in it, there's pride in it and it shows not just in the school but in the neighborhoods," Helmholdt says.

He adds that the uniforms also help keep students safer.

"When our children are walking home from school, when they have that uniform on, we know who they are. The community knows who they are, so it actually helps with the overall safety outside of school as well," Helmholdt says.

The district says a family can get one full uniform -- top and bottom --  for about $20, with a variety of colors available.  Help for financially struggling families is also available.