South Medford High School senior Erica Paulsen doesn't want a potential teacher's strike to affect her graduation or college plans. Mail Tribune / Bob Pennell - Bob Pennell

Students learn harsh realities of labor unrest

While the Medford Education Association and Medford School District continue to butt heads in contract negotiations, students are wondering how a strike will affect their own interests.

"Honestly, I just want to graduate," said Erica Paulsen, a senior at South Medford High School.

Paulsen has attended SMHS all four years and hopes to graduate in June.

She hopes to attend the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Ala., with her best friend this fall.

She has incompletes in two classes and is worried that — if the teachers do go on strike — the grades won't get registered on time, preventing her from graduating with the rest of her classmates.

Other students leaving SMHS for the day Friday were concerned there wouldn't be enough substitutes to cover for the teachers and that the substitutes would not be qualified to teach many of the advanced placement classes.

"It'll probably result in a lot of students skipping (class)," said Ethan Cannon, a senior and member of the school's honor society.

Cannon, who has been following the negotiations, added that he supports the teachers but believes both sides need to make some concessions.

"I respect the teachers for trying to get a better deal on the job; but it's not like the school board is trying to take the money for themselves," he said.

Kayla Jendro, a freshman, and her friend Jenifer Estrada, a sophomore, were more indifferent to the strike.

"I like subs because I get out early every time I get one," Jendro said.

If school was cancelled, both girls said they would welcome the opportunity to stay home, play video games and text.

If teachers decide to strike, the district will provide as many substitutes as possible, Superintendent Phil Long said.

"No matter what, we as a district are committed to a full school year and making sure our seniors get what they need to graduate."

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