MODESTO (CBS13) – Students at a Modesto high school are still dealing with negative attention now that the school is in the spotlight for a former teacher’s love affair with a student.
The relationship between 41-year-old former Enochs High teacher James Hooker and 18-year-old Jordan Powers, his former student, is making headlines around the world.
“They are saying she’s doing this, going on this show, and it’s become really crazy,” one student said on campus Thursday. “Now our school is famous because this happened.”
Students say the attention is distracting.
“I can’t even focus,” another said. “In every class that I’ve been to today, there’s been a conversation about Jordan Powers and Mr. Hooker,” another said.
Powers recently left campus and moved in with Hooker, who quit his job and left his wife and kids.
One of Hooker’s daughters is a year younger than his new lover and attended the same school until transferring Wednesday.
“They’re going through so much already, like why prolong it on TV, national TV, it’s like a slap in the face,” one student said.
The teacher-student love affair became public earlier this week when the teen’s mother waged a Facebook war –claiming the teacher pursued her daughter before she turned 18. He denies that anything sexual happened before she turned 18 last September but police are investigating the relationship.
The controversial couple was featured on a national TV morning show on Thursday. Many students watched before class.
“It was honestly disturbing,” student Kendall Riley said after watching the show. “It’s just weird.”
Another student wondered about all the media attention the two are receiving.
“They’re getting in these newspapers, on the news, and now Dr. Phil,” Annie Schott said. “They shouldn’t be getting all this praise for it.”
Some students are weighing in online instead of on campus.
As news spreads around the globe, a Facebook page supporting the former business teacher titled “Hook man for life” is gaining popularity.
The profile picture shows the pair, and in the “about” section its creator says in part: “I’m not doing this to be some little arrogant punk. I did this out of respect.”
“It’s weird. She’s getting famous for something that’s bad and I hope she opens her eyes and turns it around, but that’s her choice at the end of the day,” one student said.
CBS13 asked to speak with the couple but was told they are still doing exclusive interviews with a national network.