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

  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.carry.casket
    CARRYING—Riley Terry (blue jacket) and Mason Vaughn lead the way, carrying an empty casket outside to the hearse waiting at the curb. Morenci juniors and seniors visited Eagle Funeral Home last week to learn about the role of a funeral director and to understand the process of arranging for a funeral.
  • Front.lift
    MORENCI student Dalton McCowan puts everything into a dead lift attempt Saturday morning during the Wyseguy Push/Pull event. Lifters helped raise more than $1,600 for the family of the late Devin Wyse, a former Morenci power-lifter who graduated last year. Commemorative T-shirts are still available by contacting teacher Dan Hoffman.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.F.office
    NEW OFFICES—Fayette village administrator Steve Blue speaks with tax administrator Genna Biddix at the new front desk of the village office. Village council members voted to use budgeted renovation funds targeted for the old office and instead buy the vacant bank building on the corner of Main and Fayette streets. The old office was sold to Sherwood State Bank. When everything is put into place in the spacious new village office, an open house will be scheduled. Council member David Wheeler donated all of his time needed to make changes in the bank interior to fit the Village’s needs.

Morenci schools give on-line classes a try 2010.02.10

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

On-line course work is gaining popularity at Morenci Area High School as budget cuts reduce staff and the availability of electives decreases.

Reviews of the classes are mixed, but many students involved see potential in the concept—at least for some parts of the curriculum.

Morenci schools is affiliated with the e2020 on-line curriculum based in Arizona. The company is one several approved by the Michigan Department of Education for high school credit.p.on-line_courses.jpg

Morenci signed up for the e2020 program for two purposes: “credit recovery”—the option of repeating a class after a failing grade is recorded—and the alternative education program.

Changes in state graduation requirements make it impossible to re-take a class the next year and still graduate on time. e2020 provides credit recovery by serving as a challenging summer school, more in line with regular classroom work.

e2020 also plays a big part in the alternative education program due to changes in state regulations. Alternative programs now require a teacher who is certified to teach each class offered—just like in a regular classroom—and that isn’t possible in a small school district’s due to limited staff.

When Morenci started using e2020 classes last summer, high school principal Nate Parker knew there was one other application that was likely to kick in during the new school year: on-line classes for the regular school program.

There were times when an essential class wouldn’t fit into a student’s schedule. There were times when only two or three students wanted a class—too few to justify scheduling.

Finally, there were situations in which none of the classes offered during a particular class period were needed by a student.

Student report

Senior Zac Burrow was one of those students searching for a class.

“There were no other classes to take and the sociology course fit in perfectly,” he said.

Sociology was offered as a two-trimester class and he finished the first half of the course a couple of weeks before the end of the trimester.

Allen Beck gave a similar report.

“I needed another class for fifth hour and that worked out well,” he said, “although I think that class might have been a little too easy. I was ahead most of the time.”

Danyel Brown was far enough ahead with sociology this trimester that she started in on a second course—career skills.

“You really have to pay attention because the teacher goes over a lot of different topics,” Brown said.

She generally finishes the required homework during the class session at school, although students are able to log in at home or at the library to complete work.

Callen Miles finished the first section of sociology the first week of February so she moved forward into the second half. Some days she dreads sitting down to watch the lecture on a computer monitor; other days she doesn’t mind at all.

“I think most of it is good information, but as with any class, there are definitely boring parts,” she said. “The lectures and information are a little dated since the woman still talks about Bush being president, but other than that I’m learning some really interesting stuff.”

George W. Bush was still president two years ago, pointed out counselor Diana Fallot. The course needs updating, she agrees, yet it’s much more up to date than many textbooks.

Talk to the students taking pre-calculus and the reports aren’t as rosy. Nick Erbskorn says the class is plenty challenging, but he thinks this is largely due to flaws in the class.

“The on-line helper for the program that shows you how to do problems that are difficult makes many simple mistakes and is only helpful about half the time,” he said. “The lectures for the lessons are also very lacking. I often find myself faced with math problems that were not explained.

“I think some courses would be all right to be taught in this style, but as for more difficult subjects, nothing beats a real teacher in a classroom setting.”

Meribeth Keefer is doing much better this trimester with pre-calc compared to the first time around, but she’s getting some extra help from the school’s mathematics teachers, when they have the time to answer questions.

Kate Gallup gave pre-calc a try the first trimester—only three students wanted the class so it wasn’t offered in the classroom—but she dropped it after that.

“It was extremely hard,” she said. “Getting a decent grade in a math class on-line is next to impossible because you don't have a teacher to answer questions.”

The teacher assumes students know certain math facts that haven’t yet been learned, she said.

Sociology is a different situation. She’s enjoying that class and learning a lot.

“I think on-line courses have potential in high school, but there are definitely some things that e2020 needs to change,” Gallup said, such as contact with the teacher.

Keefer and Beck are also taking a dual-enrollment course in medical terminology through Jackson Community College. Keefer says she prefers that class over math because she has a book and she can contact the teacher by e-mail with questions.

Beck also enjoys the college format of the class with assignments given a week at a time rather than daily. The college classes are on a semester schedule from January to May.

Mr. Parker knew before e2020 classes got underway that it wouldn’t be for everybody. Some students who struggle in the classroom will succeed with the computer version, and vice versa.

It’s probably here to stay, and that’s all right with Miles.

“I think that being able to do on-line courses is very beneficial since we don’t have enough teachers to teach some of the classes and for some students, it’s easier to concentrate than being in a regular class setting.”

She prefers the online option, but she lists the sometimes boring lectures as a downfall.

It’s still a trial-and-error situation, says Mrs. Fallot, as the district looks to see what is and isn’t working. She doesn’t expect the on-line option to disappear.

“It definitely has a place in a small school district,” she said.

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