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

  • Snow.2
    FIRST SNOW—Heavy, wet flakes piled deep on tree branches—and windshields—as the area received its first significant snowfall of the season. “Usually it begins with a dusting or two,” said George Isobar, Morenci’s observer for the National Weather Service, “but this time it came with a vengeance.” By the end of the day Saturday, a little over four inches of snow was on the ground. Now comes the thaw with temperatures in the 40s and 50s for three days.
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    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.
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School Enrollment: Madison finally slows 2008.01.23

Written by David Green.


Just when it looked like Madison’s school enrollment was leveling off, along comes a kindergarten class numbering 152.

Only Adrian and Tecumseh have a larger kindergarten enrollment in Lenawee County, and Madison’s other classes average only 110.

Or maybe there’s just something attractive about the school’s kindergarten program. A year ago, once-tiny Madison had 147 new kindergarten students, but that number dropped to 116 in this year’s first grade class. Thirty-one kids apparently didn’t hang around long.

Madison’s enrollment increased by only six students from a year ago—way down from the average of 52 for the previous seven years—but the district still advanced higher in the rankings as other districts continue to lose students.

In this year’s enrollment data from the Lenawee Intermediate School District, every public school district in the county lost students except Madison and Adrian. No surprise there for Madison administrators, but Adrian’s gain of 27 students marked the first enrollment gain in a long time.

After years of decline, Adrian’s enrollment stands at 444 students more than Tecumseh. Last year there was a difference of only 333.

One more thing to note about Madison: This year’s senior class is the last one below 100 students, barring any significant changes. The average class size, not including the big kindergarten class, stands at 110. This year’s senior class numbers only 80.

Seven other districts—from Adrian down to Sand Creek—have larger graduating classes than that, yet Madison still stands as the fourth largest district. Onsted still has 319 more students than Madison and Blissfield has 154 fewer.

In September 2006, Morenci showed a decline of 22 students from the previous year. By September 2007, enrollment dropped another 22.

There was an unusually small graduating class last May with only 49 members, but there’s more of that coming along. This year’s freshman class numbers only 50 and the third grade class stands at just 53.

Morenci’s average class size is 67 and the kindergarten started off with 71.

It doesn’t look too promising for the county’s two smallest districts. Deerfield, the smallest, lost 26 students from a year ago—seven percent of its total enrollment.  Deerfield’s average class size is 27. The average K-2 is only 17.

There’s a similar situation at Britton, the next smallest district. The average class size is 40, but only 23 are enrolled in kindergarten. Only one K-6 class reaches 40.

The other districts losing the biggest percentage of the student body are Hudson with a 7 percent loss and Addison with a 6 percent loss. Hudson is likely to dip below the 1,000 mark next September.

Across the border in Fayette, enrollment dropped by 19 students to put the total at 438.   The district has an unusually small senior class with only 23 students, but there are two other classes in the 20s. The average class size is 34.

Schools of Choice

Michigan’s Schools of Choice option continues to play a big role in enrollment patterns.

Without Schools of Choice, Morenci would be back above 900 students where Sand Creek  stands; Sand Creek would shrink by 200 students to 736.

Twenty-nine Morenci district students believe the grass is greener on the Aggie side of the fence, while only 14 Sand Creek students choose Morenci.

It’s often a matter of geography, said Morenci superintendent Kyle Griffith. He makes an effort to contact all families choosing other schools to find out why they leave. Many families live near school district boundaries and choose to cross to the other side.

Griffith said the district works to continue to make Morenci attractive with AP courses, dual enrollment opportunities, and other benefits such as the financial agreement with Siena Heights.

“The greatest thing we can control is instruction and I think we do a good job there,” he said. “It’s the people who make the difference.”

Twenty-seven percent of Sand Creek’s student body lives outside the district. Most of them come from Adrian (154), but the school also draws students from Hudson (24) and Madison (27) in addition to Morenci’s 29.

For Madison, 33 percent of its students live elsewhere, with 439 coming from Adrian. Adrian loses a grand total of 887 students—almost a quarter of the district’s students head elsewhere. The district picks up 215 students, more than half of them from Madison.

Britton is equal to Madison in that 33 percent of the student body resides in other districts—mostly Tecumseh. Without Schools of Choice, Britton wouldn’t be much larger than its neighbor, Deerfield.

Deerfield and Adrian are the only districts in the county that don’t post a net gain from the choice option, although it’s getting more tenuous for Morenci. Last year the district’s net gain was 21. This year the number slipped to six, with 50 coming in and 44 going out.

As in the past, Waldron students have kept Morenci in the positive, but that number slipped from 28 a year ago to 19 this year.

On the withdrawal side, Morenci loses 10 to Hudson, five to Onsted and 29 to Sand Creek. The gains are two from Adrian, one from Blissfield, 12 from Hudson, one from Onsted, 14 from Sand Creek, and one from Tecumseh, in addition to Waldron’s 19.


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