The uniforms will cost about $20 for a maroon shirt and khaki pants or skirt, Principal Stephanie Anello told district board members last week, adding, "We try to keep the price as low as we can."
The impetus for uniforms came from the school's parents, said Anello in a phone interview.
"We have a lot of roundtable meetings with parents. They kept asking for uniforms," she said. "We began researching it and talking to community members and other individuals."
Anello said the school administration surveyed parents and the community about uniforms, and found that 91 percent of the parents wanted their children to wear them. Students weren't polled, but Anello believes they will benefit greatly.
"It does keep students focused in the classroom; they're not who they were, but who they can be," she said.
Student safety was another reason Anello cited for uniforms, because intruders easily can be identified and removed from campus. Uniforms also lessen rivalries, eliminate gang or other troublesome symbols and put the students all on an equal level, she said.
"The school's location between an elementary school and the high school makes it confusing about who are our students and who are high school or elementary students," she said. "We really don't know sometimes who is who. With uniforms we are able to identify our students and keep them safe. We have many students who walk to school, and safety is our number-one concern."
Although many schools requiring uniforms use white shirts, Anello said discussion with parents indicated that by the end of the school year those white shirts were no longer very white.
According to Anello, the school's policy is modeled on the one in Pittsburg's schools, where 98 percent of the elementary and middle school students wear uniforms.
Other schools requiring uniforms were consulted both about the specifics of their policy as well as their community's response. Long Beach Unified School District officials saw a 95 percent decrease in crime and a 69 percent drop in vandalism, according to Anello.
Parents also were quoted as saying they liked uniforms because they cost less than other clothes and were more convenient.
No logos will appear on the AMS students' uniforms. The requirement for shoes states only that they be "appropriate."
By law, the school must permit parents to exempt their children from the uniform requirement. Parents seeking exemption may contact the school at 706-5316.