The Weekly Newspaper serving the citizens of Morenci, Mich., Fayette, Ohio, and surrounding areas.

  • Front.sculpt
    SKEWERS, gumdrops, and marshmallows are all that’s needed to create interesting shapes and designs for Layla McDowell Saturday at Stair District Library’s “Sculptamania!” Open House. The program featuring design games and materials is one part of a larger project funded by a $7,500 Curiosity Creates grant from Disney and the American Library Association. Additional photos are on page 7.
    Morenci marching band members took to the field Friday night dressed for Halloween during the Bulldog’s first playoff game. Morenci fans had a bit of a scare until the fourth quarter when the Bulldogs scored 30 points to leave Lenawee Christian School behind. Whiteford visits Morenci this Friday for the district championship game. From the left is Clayton Borton, Morgan Merillat and James O’Brien.
    DNA PUZZLE—Mitchell Storrs and Wyatt Mohr tackle a puzzle representing the structure of DNA. There’s only one correct way for all the pieces to fit. It’s one of the new materials that can be used in both biology and chemistry classes, said teacher Loretta Cox.
  • Front.tar.wide
    A TRAFFIC control worker stands in the middle of Morenci’s Main Street Tuesday morning, waiting for the next flow of vehicles to be let through from the west. The dusty gravel surface was sealed with a layer of tar, leaving only the application of paint for new striping. The project was completed in conjunction with county road commission work west of Morenci.
  • Front.pull
    JUNIORS Jazmin Smith and Trevor Corkle struggle against a team from the sophomore class Friday during the annual tug of war at the Homecoming Games pep rally. Even the seniors struggled against the sophomores who won the competition. At the main course of the day, the Bulldog football team struggled against Whiteford in a homecoming loss.
    YOUNG soccer players surived a chilly morning Saturday in Morenci’s PTO league. From the left is Emma Cordts, Wayne Corser, Carter and Levi Seitz, Briella York and Drew Joughin. Two more weeks of soccer remain for this season.
  • Front.ropes
    BOWEN BAUMGARTNER of Morenci makes his way across a rope bridge constructed by the Tecumseh Boy Scout troop Sunday at Lake Hudson Recreation Area. The bridge was one of many challenges, displays and games set up for the annual Youth Jamboree by the Michigan DNR. Additional photos on are the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.homecoming Court
    One of four senior candidates will be crowned the fall homecoming queen during half-time of this week’s Morenci-Whiteford football game. In the back row (left to right) is exchange student Kinga Vidor (her escort will be Caylob Alcock), seniors Alli VanBrandt (escorted by Sam Cool), Larissa Elliott (escorted by Clayton Borton), Samantha Wright (escorted by JJ Elarton) and Justis McCowan (escorted by Austin Gilson), and exchange student Rebecca Rosenberger (escorted by Garrett Smith). Front row freshman court member Allie Kaiser (escorted by Anthony Thomas), sophomore Marlee Blaker (escorted by Nate Elarton) and junior Cheyenne Stone (escorted by Dominick Sell).
  • Front.park.lights
    GETTING READY—Jerad Gleckler pounds nails to secure a string of holiday lights on the side of the Wakefield Park concession stand while other members of the Volunteer Club and others hold them in place. The volunteers showed up Sunday afternoon to string lights at the park. The decorating project will continue this Sunday. Denise Walsh is in charge of the effort this year.

Freshman Prep to give students a boost 09.17.2007

Written by David Green.


Any homework today?

“I don’t have any homework; I have a test tomorrow.”

Wrong answer, says Morenci science instructor Kerry Neiman. If you have a test tomorrow, then you have homework.

That answer might be classified as a freshman mistake. It’s one Mrs. Nieman doesn’t want to hear again as Morenci’s ninth grade class members advance onward toward their senior year.

Along with the help of two other teachers, she’s doing her best to improve the study habits of the school’s freshman class—the first to face the stiff graduation requirements set by the state education department.

Math and science teacher Kim Mohr came up with the idea for what’s being called “Freshman Prep,” a high school readiness class. She read about the concept in an education magazine and it made a lot of sense to her.freshman_prep.jpg

It sounds simple—taking notes, reviewing notes, following directions, studying, preparing for a test, taking a test—but those skills aren’t specifically taught in the lower grades.

Some kids might come into high school with good study skills, but many don’t. Even if it’s something they’ve been taught in the past, most students could benefit from learning how to better put the skills into practice.

As a practical example, Mrs. Mohr points to the new requirement in mathematics. General math isn’t even offered anymore. To graduate in 2011, students needs to pass algebra II.

“We want to make sure they know how to use their textbook,” Mrs. Mohr said. “Rather than raise their hands and wait for a teacher, they’re going to need to be able to take a more proactive approach.”

Mrs. Nieman says they’re giving students “the skills to succeed” and helping them put the skills into practice.

Freshmen used planners in middle school to write down homework and test schedules. Well, at least they were issued planners. They weren’t always taking advantage of them.

“They’re going to be using them a lot more than in middle school,” Mrs. Nieman said. “They’ll be getting in the habit of that.”

Daily class

Updating planners is part of the new course, along with 20 minutes of homework time. A study skill is discussed followed by an activity to put the skill into practice.

The class often addresses a topic or skill that students will encounter the next day in their regular classes. Other teachers are asked for ideas that should be covered in the prep class.

There was no set curriculum to buy and creating the class takes a lot of time, said Deb Hojnacki, the third teacher involved. However, there’s a definite advantage to having three teachers.

One of the three takes charge of planning for a week. She creates a lesson plan, then shows it to the other two for review and suggestions.

“It really helps to have three different points of view,” Mrs. Mohr said.

“You get a lot of ideas from each other and we do a lot of brainstorming,” Mrs. Nieman added. “We’re learning each day.”

Mrs. Hojnacki, who teaches students with disabilities, got involved with the freshman class for two reasons. Her students could clearly benefit from special study skills, and there’s concern that the state might do away with resource rooms in favor of inclusion where all students learn in a regular classroom.

“We’re erring on the side of caution,” she said, by trying more inclusion, but with a co-teaching format.

In the current trimester, she’s spending some time in Jesse Bach’s social science class to help special needs students there and also to handle some presentation of subject matter.

The Milan school district has done away with the resource room completely, Mrs. Hojnacki said, but Morenci isn’t yet ready to make that jump.

In the meantime, all of her students are joining the freshmen in learning how to study better.

And don’t forget, kids, if your planner indicates there’s a test coming up next week, you could do a little review of your notes today.


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