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

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    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.
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    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.
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    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.
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    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.
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    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).
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    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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Mayan Pot project 2009.03.11

Written by David Green.


Not all of the young archeologists succeeded in their quest to interpret stories recorded on shards of broken pottery.

In one case, drawings of wolves were seen as turtles. A camping trip evolved into the classic race between the tortoise and the hare.mayan.starting_pots.jpg

That was all right with Morenci Middle School teacher Doug Rupp. It’s a writing class that he’s teaching; not a study of ancient cultures.

Mr. Rupp got the idea from a colleague at Clinton’s middle school and reworked it for his sixth grade classes.

“The Mayans [of Mexico and Central America] were great story tellers,” Mr. Rupp said in the introduction to the assignment.

The project began with a fictional narrative. Each student wrote a story that included dialogue and incorporated elements of creativity such as foreshadowing, flashbacks, similes and metaphor. Students were urged to keep the main idea of their tale to themselves.

This was followed by a trip to the school computer lab to view samples of Mayan art on websites.

Next, each student received a Mayan pot—a terra cotta flowerpot that would soon be transformed into a centuries old piece of decorated pottery.

With paints and brushes, each student retold their story by drawing it onto the pot—no words allowed.

When complete, each pot was placed in a grocery sack and stapled closed. Then came a step that was a little difficult for many students. Holding the sack high, they dropped it onto the sidewalk in front of the school.

After all that work, there was some hesitation to break it into pieces, Mr. Rupp said.

He had a different form of anxiety. He never tried out this step of the project ahead of time and he wasn’t sure what was going to happen. mayan.it_broke.jpg

Three students lined up, lifted their sacks and let go. Mr. Rupp scurried over to check the damage. It was perfect. Complete destruction. There were only a few cases where he had to give an extra crushing blow.

Bags were traded and reconstruction got underway. Piece by piece, each pot was glued back together so the painted story could be read.

“I didn’t know how the gluing was going to go,” Mr. Rupp said. “Some were really difficult to reassemble.”

There were three or four kids in each class who couldn’t get the pot back together—much better than the 50/50 split Mr. Rupp feared might happen.

At this point the project was about three-fourths complete. Now the archeologists became writing students once again. The pots were reconstructed; now came the reconstruction of the story.

By looking at the painted drawings, students had to put the tale back into words, trying to interpret what they saw into another fictional narrative.

“The challenge was to be more elaborate than what was on the pots,” Mr. Rupp said. “Some kids gave a lot of detail and ended up with a longer story than the original.”

The final segment of the assignment was a comparison between the original story and the reconstructed tale.

Many stories matched up fairly well. Others—like the wolves that became turtles—provided a good laugh.

“The kids were rolling,” Mr. Rupp said. “We had a good time with that one.”

In Mr. Rupp’s opinion, the Mayan Pot Project was a complete success. He sees the assignment as a lot of fun, but also as a meaningful way to approach writing.

Attention, fifth grade students: You will experience this project next year when you move into Mr. Rupp’s English class. This one is a keeper.

• The Mayan Pot project was funded by a grant from the Morenci Education Foundation.

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