By RICHARD F. BELISLE
Staff Writer, Waynesboro
MERCERSBURG, Pa. - When Richard Wagner began teaching social studies at St. Thomas High School in 1960, the most serious student discipline problems were chewing gum and talking in class.
Girls' dresses had to be a certain length and they could only wear slacks in the two coldest months of the year, he said. Alcohol, drugs, talking back to teachers, lack of manners, hip-hop clothes and body jewelry were unheard of. Students feared their teachers, he said.
Wagner's salary that first year was $3,000.
When he retired this year from James Buchanan High School in Mercersburg, Pa., his salary was $50,000.
"There was no way back then that I ever figured I would make that kind of money," he said.
Another major difference over that time is the number of students who work after school, he said. Early in his career, the few who worked were helpers on family farms. Now, most of his students have after-school jobs at places like the Whitetail Ski Resort, fast-food restaurants or convenience stores.