"Strike it or Not"

Scene: Teacher's lounge. Focus on coffee mug. Zoom out as Ms. Bladdar picks up the mug.

Ms. Bladdar: *sigh* I love free period.

Door bangs open, hitting Ms. Bladdar in the back and causing her to spill her coffee. Enter hurriedly Mr. Carter.

Mr. Carter: One side, Bronte! (goes to copy machine with stack of papers)

Enter Ms. Sneed.

Ms. Sneed (angrily): Gold stars! Are there no gold stars in this school?

Ms. Bladdar (annoyed): Paper towels, where are the paper towels?

Mr. Carter (yelling): Cheese and crackers! This thing still hasn't been fixed? (copy machine begins to smoke) I have to copy twenty-six quizzes by next period!

Enter Vera; stands in doorway

Vera: Make that thirty. You've got four new students transferring in today. (to Ms. Sneed) Nice outfit, Carlotta. It looks almost as pretty today as it did yesterday.

Enter Ms. Stark, pushing Vera out of the way.Ms. Sneed: Well, if we ever get that raise, maybe I'll be able to afford another outfit!

Ms. Bladdar plucks a tassel from Ms. Sneed's outfit; returns to table

Ms. Stark (rooting through cabinet): Where's the coffee? (turns; sees Ms. Bladdar cleaning up the spilled coffee with the tassel) You again, Bronte?

Ms. Bladdar: They were out of pear nectar.

Ms. Stark: You know the school only gives us one instant coffee packet a day. Your day was yesterday. Today is my day! My day!

Bell rings; loud crash and fizzing sound comes from copier.

Mr. Carter: Well, I guess I'll just have to make it an oral pop quiz. Tenth one in a row, in case you didn't know!

Exit all teachers except Ms. Bladdar, who is holding another cup of coffee. Door hits her in the back; coffee spills.

Ms. Bladdar: Whoa!

Vera pokes her head in.

Vera: Bronte, you're covering for Miss Ford again. Pottery wheel accident.

Ms. Bladdar: I hate free period.

Scene changes. Show crowded classroom with kids talking and laughing. Pan across scene to door, where Pepper Ann and Mr. Carter are coming in at the same time. They squeeze past each other. Pepper Ann makes it in first.

Mr. Carter (handing Pepper Ann a detention slip): You're late, Pearson!

Pepper Ann: But, so are you!

Mr. Carter: Class doesn't start until I get here, therefore I'm never late!

walks angrily to her seat. Finds Dieter sitting there. Picks him up and throws him out of the chair.

Dieter: Ooofafahh!

Pepper Ann (sitting down): What I wouldn't give to get Mr. Carter off my back for one stinking week!

Enter Ms. Sneed; whispers to Mr. Carter.

Mr. Carter (gasps): That tears it. Alert the other teachers. (exit Ms. Sneed) Students, class is dismissed. Effective immediately, the teachers are goin' out on strike!

Pepper Ann: So happy…can't breathe…(faints)

Scene changes. Pepper Ann is standing next to Nicky's locker. Nicky is putting books away.

Pepper Ann: And after the smelling salts revived me, Trinket invited everyone to her Hawaiian-themed pool party!

Nicky (after closing her locker): Pepper Ann! This is no time for parties! This strike is ripping our school in half!

Pepper Ann (angrily): Come on, Nicky. Those greedy tyrants known as teachers just want to get paid more money to make our lives miserable.

Nicky: Hardly. Studies show that class sizes are increasing while teacher's salaries are declining! I, for one, am starting a letter writing campaign, demanding that teacher's get the pay they deserve. Milo, are you with me?

Milo is dressed for Trinket's pool party, complete with goggles and snorkel. He attempts to talk around the snorkel, and is translated at the bottom of the screen in white letters.

Milo: Nuhey huhey. Nynoinninna. (Translation: No way, Jose. I'm going to Trinket's.)

Nicky (not understanding): Milo's in.

Pepper Ann: Let them fight it out for weeks for all I care. I'm hitting Trinket's pool party.

Milo (running after Pepper Ann, muffled by snorkel): Wait up!

Nicky (grabs Milo by the float he is wearing around his waist): So Milo, how's that tongue of yours? Ready to lick a thousand envelopes?

Milo (again translated): Uhhanhe, humy! Notnakene hurnu. (Translation: Unhand me, woman! Don't make me hurt you.)

Nicky (again not understanding): That's the spirit!

Scene changes. Teachers picketing in front of the Hazelnut Board of Education building.

Teachers: Give us our pay hike or you can watch us stee-rike!

Pepper Ann (dressed for Trinket's pool party): All right people, comin' through! Watch your backs! Hey Mr. Finky, how long do you think this strike's gonna last? 'Cause if it's only a week, Trinket's pool will be fine, but if you think it'll go any longer, I'm thinkin' Lake Tammy.

Mr. Finky: We'll step off when the school board gives us some props for our blood, sweat, and tears!

Pepper Ann: I don't know what you're saying.

Ms. Stark (dramatically): Pepper Ann, we love teaching, but we can barely live on what they're paying us!

Ms. Sneed: They won't even give is our cost of living pay raise! That was the straw that broke the camel's back. Look! This cheap yarn is all I can afford! (Pulls at the seam of her blouse; it begins to unravel quickly)

Pepper Ann (turning away): Ms. Sneed, no!

Pepper Ann looks back and sees Ms. Sneed in a t-shirt reading "Strike!"

Pepper Ann: Oh. Well, you greedy tyrants have a fun pity party. I'm outie.

Coach Doogan (loudly): Oh, and hey, did we happen to mention that they also want to slash the soccer program?

Focus on Pepper Ann's feet. They stop abruptly; she drops her towel. Scene changes. Pepper Ann, still dressed for Trinket's pool party, storms into the school office. Vera wakes up from napping on her typewriter.

Vera: Careful. Since the strike's started, he's been a little on edge.

Pepper Ann ignores her and barges into Principal Hickey's office.

Pepper Ann: Principal Hickey, I demand that you -

Principal Hickey: Leave the soccer program alone? It's out of my hands, Pearson. The school board's making the budget cuts, not me.

Pepper Ann: But who's -

Principal Hickey: In charge of the school board? Superintendent Radcliffe. But times are tough. There just isn't any more money in the budget for the teachers, let alone the extracurricular activities.

Pepper Ann: So you're just gonna stand by and watch -

Principal Hickey: Reruns of "Guess My Mamma"? I hate that show. Always have. But as for the budget cuts, there's nothing I or the school board can do. They're doing the best they can with the money they have, but they simply don't have enough to make everyone happy.

Pepper Ann (angrily): Well, if you won't stand up for our soccer program, then I'm left with no other choice but to -

Principal Hickey: Cross stitch? Throw horseshoes? Jump up, jump up and get down?

Pepper Ann: No. I've got something else in mind.

Scene changes back to teachers picketing.

Teachers: Give us our pay hike or you can watch us stee-rike!

Pepper Ann (uncertainly): Give us back our soccer team or we'll be…really mad…and - and stuff.

Mr. Carter: Look who's come to join our "greedy tyrant pity party"!

Pepper Ann: Hey, I'm not any more thrilled about this than you are. I'm just doing this for the soccer team. (marching, determined) Give us back our soccer team or we'll be really mad and stuff! Give us back out soccer team or we'll be really mad and stuff!

White screen with "Four Hours Later" on it in blue lettering shows, then disappears. Pepper Ann is still attempting to picket.

Pepper Ann (tired, dragging her sign behind her): Give us back our soccer team or we'll…something, something…

Coach Doogan: Pearson, you're dehydrated. Now sit out for a while and I'll cover for ya.

Pepper Ann: I'm fine; I don't need your help, Uncle JoJo.

Coach Doogan: Oh for cry - have I taught you nothing? The whole reason - well, one of the reasons I left the convent was to become a coach. To show you girlies teamwork, teamwork, teamwork! We're on the same team, here! I'm the soccer coach, and I want to keep my soccer team as much as you do!

Pepper Ann: You're right. But if we're gonna do this, we need all the help we can get!

Scene changes to Trinket's pool party. Gwen Mezzrow and Pink-Eye Pete are doing to hula. Tessa and Vanessa are doing synchronized swimming in the pool. Hawaiian music is playing. Dieter yells and does a cannonball into the pool, sending up a small tidal wave and splashing Pepper Ann.

Pepper Ann: Excuse me everyone? Hello? (yells) Free chili!

Music stops with record screeching sound. Everyone looks in Pepper Ann's direction.

Pepper Ann: Sorry to interrupt, but the school board is threatening to can the soccer team.

Trinket (laying in a lawn chair, sunbathing with Cissy): Oh please. They've been saying that for years.

Pepper Ann: But they're serious this time! Trust me, we have to stand up for what we believe in.

Trinket: So, let me get this straight. We could spent our time off walking pavement with a bunch of gross, sweaty teachers, or we could hang out here and spend the week having fun and getting the ultimate suntan. Hm…

Everyone goes back to partying. A boy cheers, Tessa and Vanessa start playing Marco-Polo. Scene changes back to picketing teachers. Pepper Ann is sitting on a cooler, looking upset.

Pepper Ann: It was awful. I just wanted them to listen to me, to get them understand what's at stake here, but they didn't even care!

Mr. Carter: Welcome to the wonderful world of bein' a teacher. Half the struggle is gettin' you kids to listen.

Pepper Ann (defensively): Hey, maybe I'd listen better if classes weren't so boring!

Mr. Carter (annoyed): And maybe classes wouldn't be so boring if I didn't have twenty-nine other students to teach at the same time, students who don't grasp science quite as quickly as you do!

Pepper Ann (getting up, angry): Well, maybe - (realizes what Mr. Carter just said) You think I'm good at science?

Mr. Carter: Ahh, you're one of the best I got! But other students need more attention! They're the ones that suffer the most from over-crowded classrooms.

Pepper Ann: Wow, I guess I never really thought of it like that.

Coach Doogan: Well, well, well, are you girlies gonna start braiding each other's hair, or are we gonna picket?

Scene changes. Teachers are back to picketing. Mr. Finky is talking to Pepper Ann.

Mr. Finky: And so I booty-scooted my way on up to the rodeo regionals and was crowed champ by the Hazelnut Steer Queen!

Pepper Ann: So that's how you got that jacket that says, "Sherm 'Flyguy' Finky"? I always thought you found it in the trash or something.

Scene changes to Pepper Ann and Ms. Sneed playing cards on the sidewalk.

Ms. Sneed: So that's when I said, "Carlotta Sneed gives up her yarn for no one! Certainly not the establishment! Either love my knitting needles or hit the highway!"

Pepper Ann: You go, sister!

Scene changes to Pepper Ann and Ms. Bladdardrinking juice under a sun umbrella.

Pepper Ann: So what made you wanna teach, Ms. Bladdar? Do you wanna change the world, make the future a better place for your children's children?

Ms. Bladdar: I'm won't lie. I'm lookin' for a man.

Scene changes to Greezy 'n' Cheezy. Pepper Ann is talking to Nicky and Milo, who are working on Nicky's letter writing campaign.

Pepper Ann (excited): And Ms. Stark played Wilhemina Lomen in the off-Broadway, all-female production of "Death of a Saleswoman".

Nicky: That's what I've been writing about in my "Save Our Schools" newsletter: that teachers are real people who work hard for little pay!

Pepper Ann: So why hasn't the school board given in yet?

Nicky: Well, unfortunately, if the school board doesn't have any more money, then there's no way they can give in.

Pepper Ann: Well, I'm not giving up. I'm going to go help Mr. Finky pass out flyers.

Milo, who's tongue is wrapped in a bandage, holds up a paper place mat with "Take me with you!" written on it. Pepper Ann does not see the place mat. Nicky does, and takes it from Milo.

Nicky (ripping the place mat up, laughing): Haha, you silly!

Scene changes. Pepper Ann exits Greezy 'n' Cheezy and meets up with Mr. Carter.

Mr. Carter (excited): Pepper Ann, there you are! Superintendent Radcliffe is about to make a statement about the school budget cut situation!

They walk away; scene changes to in front of the Hazelnut Board of Education building. A podium is set up and the teachers are gathered around it. Superintendent Radcliffe walks up to the podium. He is surrounded by reporters.

Superintended Radcliffe: Good afternoon. As you all know, the recent school budget cuts have been tough for all of us. Not just for our educators but -

Principal Hickey (leaning in front of the podium): Clowny Appleseed? Burgess Meridith? How about the checkout boy at Smiley's?

Superintendent Radcliffe: - the school board. But thanks to the state Board of Education, who has agreed to give us more money, I am pleased to announce that school sports such as soccer, football, and log rolling will remain firmly intact!

Pepper Ann: We did it! They're not canning the soccer team! (group hug with teachers) We can go home!

Mr. Carter: You can, Pepper Ann, but we teachers still have to strike! They're not offerin' us any more money.

Pepper Ann: I'm sure they'll give in soon. It's just a matter of time, right?

Mr. Reason: Actually Pepper Ann, if we strike for much longer it'll be just a matter of time before they replace us with someone fresh out of college who's willing to work for less pay. We'll be fired, out of a job, and that'll be the end of it.

Coach Doogan: He's right, Pearson. A low-paying job is better than no job at all. Okay, all those in favor of ending the strike?

All teachers (sadly): Yea.

Mr. Carter: I guess.

Coach Doogan: All opposed?

Pepper Ann (determinedly): Nay! If you guys quit now, you'll go back to your overcrowded classes, you'll never get your raises, and Ms. Sneed'll wear the same ugly dress for the rest of her miserable life! (to Ms. Sneed) No offense. Look, I know some of you are afraid of losing your jobs, and I don't blame you. But I, for one, and standing up for what I believe in! (picks up a picket sign) Give 'em their pay hike, or you can watch 'em stee-rike!

Milo and Nicky join in.

Pepper Ann, Milo, and Nicky: Give 'em their pay hike, or you can watch 'em stee-rike!

Teachers join in.

All teachers: Give us our pay hike or you can watch us stee-rike!

Scene fades from picketing teachers to Hazelnut Middle School auditorium. Ms. Stark is reading the school paper and drinking coffee.

Ms. Stark (reading from the paper): And the week after it began, thanks to the tireless efforts of the HMS teachers, the strike ended. The school board decided to reallocate funds and give in to many of the teacher's demands…

Scene changes to Ms. Sneed standing outside the gym in a new outfit, also reading the school paper.

Ms. Sneed (reading from the paper): Such as slightly smaller class sizes and a much overdue cost of living increase in teacher's salaries.

Scene changes to Mr. Carter banging angrily on the copier.

Ms. Sneed (still reading from the paper): Some of the teacher's demands, however, were not met…

Scene changes to Pepper Ann and Milo at Milo's locker. Pepper Ann is reading the school paper.

Pepper Ann (reading from the paper): But with the strike settled, HMS can now look forward to a better educational environment as the school and the community continue on into the new millennium. (closes newspaper) Well, I've gotta admit Milo, I have a whole new respect for our teachers, just like they have a whole new respect for me.

Bell rings. Pepper Ann and Milo enter science class.

Mr. Carter (handing Pepper Ann a detention slip): You're late, Pearson! (taps his watch)

Pepper Ann: What? After everything we've been through together? After everything I did to help? Milo, back me up here!

Milo, who's tongue is still in a bandage, walks over to Mr. Carter and begins to explain. He is translated on the screen once again.

Milo: Oo thee, Ister Arter, Epper Ann donnet nean do be ate. Nis ust her ay. Is what nee doth. Is who nee ith. O nif nu nanna punnisth er, en tho be it. Hut hersonallly…(Translation: You see, Mr. Carter, Pepper Ann doesn't mean to be late. It's just her way. It's what she does. It's who she is. So if you want to punish her, then so be it. But personally…)

Pepper Ann (exasperated, knocks text of Milo's translation out of the way): Oh forget it! No one wants to read that much! (walks away)

Scene close out with black; Milo shrugs before final circle closes. End episode.

[Truth Saga][Pepper Ann World]