USD 418 staff and college graduates across the community cast off their formal attire Thursday in favor of college T-shirts.

The school district usually encourages its staff twice a year to wear college apparel of a school they attended or support in order to encourage discussion with youth about college attendance.

This is the first year the district has extended the program to the community.

Terry Krier, school board president, was behind the push to get the community involved in the college apparel day.

"I think this shows students schools and colleges and lets them talk about their benefits," Krier said. "It gets them into that mindset. It gives an advantage to the schools and community of McPherson.

"I also like to see the community and schools, especially around All Schools Day, work on an initiative like this together. This is a part of our C3 initiative, which is not just a school thing. It is a community thing."

The district is trying to get students talking about career options and post-secondary study as early as possible. Career advocates were introduced this year at the high school and middle school levels. These advocates met with students and their families to talk about career paths and higher education.

Superintendent Randy Watson dawned his purple Thursday in honor of his alma mater Kansas State University from which he received three degrees.

He cited a Georgetown Policy Institute study that indicated 70 percent of jobs in Kansas are going to need post secondary education in the near future.

"We think we always want kids thinking about their future and what their goals are," he said.

Krier said students can't just graduate with a high school degree anymore. They need to be taking classes in high school that will prepare them for their studies or careers after high school.

"If a student wants to be a doctor, they need to be taking sciences and not four years of art," he said.

"If they want to be an artist, they shouldn't be taking English. You need to take classes that prepare for what you want to do or at least helps you learn what you don't want to do in life."

McPherson High School Principal Bret McClendon wore a Grinnell College shirt Thursday. He attended Emporia State University, but his daughter is attending Grinnell, a college in Iowa.

"I chose this school because I thought it might be a school students might not know that much about," McClendon said.

He said the apparel day was a good way for adults to get conversations about college started with students.

"It is a pride thing," McClendon said. "The staff wants kids to go to their schools. They have an affinity for their institutions. They like to publicize them and talk about it a little bit."

Cristina Janney can be reached at or follow her on Twitter @macsentinel.