Maumee High School senior Nathaniel Mosher wanted one of the red "Teachers Deserve a Fair Contract" shirts unionized educators began wearing on Fridays a few weeks ago.
But Nathaniel was told the shirts were only for teachers, who started negotiating a contract with the local board of education in August.
So he and friend Phil Beasley, a fellow Maumee senior, decided to show their support and have printed a batch of red shirts that read "Students in Support of Maumee Teachers." Tomorrow, about 120 Maumee students are expected to wear the shirts, with roughly 100 more wearing red apparel in support of teachers, Nathaniel said.
"I really thought they were being treated unfairly," Nathaniel said.
He added: "I felt that we had to really express ourselves to show them we support what they do."
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The first batch of 30 student shirts, which they sold at cost for $6 each, made their debut in mid-December, on the last Friday before the holiday break. Yesterday, the students started handing out the second batch of 90 shirts.
Maumee Superintendent Gregory Smith said students can wear the shirts as long as they comply with the board's dress code.
The three-year contract between the teachers' union, the Maumee Education Association, and the board expired Dec. 31.
Sticking points remain health-care coverage and salary increases, and a second attempt at using federal mediation is scheduled to begin tomorrow, said Jim Windnagle, the teachers' spokesman.
Nathaniel and Phil's red-shirt campaign was a welcome surprise to teachers, Mr. Windnagle said.
"When I heard about it, my jaw kind of dropped," he said.
Nathaniel said teachers spend extra time tutoring and otherwise going out of their way to help students. Neither Nathaniel nor Phil is related to a teacher, they said.
"I wanted to help them out because they do so much for us," Phil said. "I just wanted to give something back."
The shirts were not allowed to be sold at school, so the duo used Facebook and MySpace to advertise them, Nathaniel said. Maumee High School alumni also have voiced their support for teachers through the online hangouts, he said.
Students also are planning to attend school board meetings to support the teachers, Nathaniel said.
Contact Julie M. McKinnon at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6087.