About 90 Medomak Valley High School students participated in a sit-in the morning of April 12 to support teachers, who have been working without a contract since October.

"Without our faculty, we wouldn't be anywhere," said Gavin Felch, a sophomore, who participated in a sit-in.

Due to the lack of a contract, Regional School Unit 40 teachers instituted the "work to rule" at the board meeting April 4.

"There are kids that should be getting extra help, but a statement has to be made somehow," said MVHS math teacher Tammy Hilchey.

For those students participating in the sit-in, the doors to the cafeteria were closed at 7:30 a.m. No one from the public, including the media, were allowed into the protest.

"We are going to have a conversation with them," said Assistant Principal Andrew Cavanaugh when asked if the students would be suspended for their participation.

Principal Harold Wilson and Cavanaugh addressed the group, answering any questions they had regarding their teachers' contract negotiations.

"They are asking great questions," said Waldoboro Police Chief William Labombarde, who was on-hand along with Officer Jeffrey Fuller.

After a few rounds of applause, several students departed the cafeteria.

At 7:50 a.m., several more students left the cafeteria to head to class. Approximately 25 students remained.

In a statement released by Principal Wilson, he said the students were given several opportunities to ask questions and return to class. He explained that he understood their concerns.

"There are more appropriate ways for you to make your voices heard," Paul Forest, president of the Medomak Valley Education Association told the group, according to the news release. He suggested having a conversation with their parents or writing a letter to the school board.

Forest told the group he appreciated their support, but none of the teachers wanted the students to violate the school rules.

Those that remained were suspended for the day.

During the sit-in, students voiced their support in other ways.

Grace Jameson, a senior who had spoken at the RSU 40 board meeting April 11, said she supports the faculty, but disagrees with the way some students are handling the situation.

"We need to have an organized group of people who understand what the situation is," Jameson said. "We need to approach people who are actually going to do something about it."

"We also need to do it in a way that isn't going to effect our education or interrupt other people's education," said Jameson. "We need to find the right time, the right place, and the right people."

Some who did not participate in the sit-in said there were several who were talked into it by friends.

"They were using it as an excuse to get out of class," said Danielle Lawson, a senior, who joined Jameson and other students to discuss options.

Hannah Babcock, a senior who also did not participate, stood outside with teachers prior to school. Since the work to rule order has been in effect teachers gather around the flagpole and enter the school together at 7:05 a.m. and depart at approximately 2:30 p.m.

"I'm going to college to become a teacher," Babcock said. "I support our faculty."

Courier Publications reporter Beth A. Birmingham can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 125 or by email at bbirmingham@courierpublicationsllc.com.