Threat of being "Urkeled" keeps students from sagging

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A Memphis middle school combined a popular television character, an award system and zip ties to turn their campus into a no sagging zone.

Westside Middle School Principal Bobby White had a problem to solve. "How do we stop the sagging of the pants?" asked White.

He decided to put a twist on his no sagging pants policy. "Everybody who possibly needed to be 'Urkeled,' they were 'Urkeled,'" said White.

A staff member suggested fighting pop culture with pop culture. "I thought it was a joke," said student Jadarius Walton. "Until I got 'Urkeled.'"

Students who wore saggy pants were turned into television character Steve Urkel. The popular character's style of dress is now a verb at Westside Middle School. "It's pretty embarrassing," said student Keldrion Vann.

Staff members walk the halls with zip ties. If they see saggy pants, the student gets "Urkeled." "You slide it over, take out the remaining slack," said teacher Shaka Greene. "It's almost impossible to get it off."

"They can put your pants as high as your chest," said Vann. "And they can put as many as three or four on you."

The school even has an Urkel photo board for all the students to see. "All the girls will laugh and tell you how ridiculous you look," said Walton.

Greene is the reigning "Urkel" award champ. The teacher started "Urkeling" up to 80 students a week. In five weeks, that number dropped to 18. "We're talking about a more than 80 percent drop in the number of people that we actually have to put a zip tie on," said Greene.

On White's first day on the job two years ago, he got grass planted in the front of the school. He also posts encouraging signs in the hallway. "There's something right about looking right, acting right, beginning to think right," said White.

Tuesday at Westside Middle School is "tie day." On "Jazzy Thursdays," female students dress professionally. "If you keep your pants up, it keeps you looking like a proper young man," said Walton.

White's motto is pride, passion and professionalism.

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