JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Schools in Pascagoula and Gautier want to give their students an edge when it comes to competing for jobs. Last month, the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce hosted a summit for business leaders and educators. One of the biggest concerns raised by businesses was the way young people look and how they conduct themselves during job interviews. So this year, the school district launched a program to help students "Dress for Success."
Guys in suits and bow ties and young ladies in dresses and high heels. Pascagoula High students came to class Monday dressed to impress.
"It feels better and you know you look good so you're more confident, like everybody looks nice," said Pascagoula High Senior Gabriela Wells.
The formal fashion statement is part of the new "Dress for Success" program in the Pascagoula-Gautier School District.
"I could barely sleep last night and when I got here today, I was just grinning from ear to ear seeing how awesome they looked," said Pascagoula High Principal Anthony Herbert, Sr.
Once a month, students can choose to wear business attire to school, clothes they would wear to a real job interview.
"It's a good learning lesson, because a lot of people don't know what it means to dress for success, like what's the appropriate length, what's appropriate showing of cleavage," said Gabriela.
"I personally want to go into politics, and politics and suits kind of go hand-in-hand," said Pascagoula High Sophomore Quintin Brown.
All 19-campuses in the district are participating in the program.
"Our generation, we don't know what professional dress is and how to dress up," said Pascagoula High Senior Cartreal Davison. "Some people have to go straight out of high school into the workforce, so this is really helpful."
Even elementary-age children get to dress up and learn early lessons about respect and manner words like "please" and "thank you". For the older students, they'll focus on topics like public speaking, resume building, attendance, being on time, and why their appearance matters.
"Stressing to students the importance of that first impression and letting them know sometimes, when things look very similar between candidates on paper, it's going to be that interview, it's going to be how you present yourself that can make the difference," said Herbert.
Pascagoula High plans to invite fashion experts to the school and host etiquette workshops. Business leaders will also show up and randomly select students to conduct mock interviews.