north medford high school

This is North Medford High School in Medford, Oregon. Tomorrow evening I’ll be running an article profiling an unsolved missing persons case, that of Jay C. Pringle, age 17, who vanished in April 1977 while on a road trip with a friend. It is not a very well-publicized case but one that I find interesting. Similar to how I did some “Earth” posts prior to my main article on the Bickwit/Weiser case last summer, I thought I would train my trusty Google Earth lens on this location as I work on the main article.

In 1977, when Jay Pringle was a student here (I don’t know for sure, but given his age I would guess he was a senior), this was called Medford Senior High School, and it probably looks much the same today as it did 37 years ago. The school was originally built in 1967 to alleviate overcrowding at the original Medford High School, which is now Central Medford High School. About 2,000 students attended school here at that time; now it’s a little less. One of the notable alumni of North Medford High School is guitarist Page Hamilton, founder of the alt-metal band Helmet. Hamilton probably attended this school at the same time Jay Pringle did though likely they were in different classes.

High school in the 1970s must have been a strange experience. The ’60s were over and youth culture had arguably had its peak, but teenagers had not yet slid into the lethargy that I labeled in another article “cheerful nihilism” that is often overlooked in popular depictions of the 1980s. The preeminent cultural depiction of high school life in the 1970s is Richard Linklater’s 1993 film Dazed and Confused. I have no idea how close that depiction comes to the way things really might have been at a high school like this, in a medium-sized city in southern Oregon, but it’s interesting to think about.

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