Locke High School students, in their school uniforms, walk home past graffiti along 111th Street near Watts. Rival gang turf surrounds the school, and students are occasionally harassed or even caught in the crossfire. The school uniforms are intended, in part, to defuse such conflicts on campus. But the uniforms have proved no panacea. A number of students resisted wearing them or tried to get away with not tucking in their shirts or wearing their pants below their hip bones, with their boxer shorts showing. At the start of the year, The Times pulled four students at random from a line of youths whod shown up the first day out of uniform. The school had provided loaner uniforms to each student as well as a warning to get with the program. Of these four, only one apparently made it through the entire year at Locke: One, a junior, left school in February after excessive absences. Another, a sophomore, was sent home for the year with several weeks remaining in the term after repeated behavioral problems. The school could find no record of a third student, also a sophomore -- its possible that hes listed in school records under a different name. Senior Terry Vance was the only one of the four to stay on at Locke. He still hated the uniforms, and didnt like school much better either. He had an up-and-down year marked by attendance issues. He said he wont be receiving a diploma because he has yet to pass the math part of the high school exit exam.
Spencer Weiner / Los Angeles Times