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.

School breakfast update 2010.12.22

Written by David Green.

mcgee.jpgBy DAVID GREEN

Two years ago Michigan’s state school superintendent Mike Flanagan set out a challenge to schools participating in the National School Lunch Program: Increase student participation in the school breakfast program by at least 50 percent.

Morenci was among more than 200 districts that met Flanagan’s challenge.

Food service worker Cheryl Kutzley said she and elementary school dean of students Mary Fisher visited a school district two years ago that offered “universal breakfast”—a free morning meal to all students.

“That sounded unbelievable to me,” Kutzley told board of education members Dec. 6, but it also sounded very good.

Morenci launched its own breakfast program at the elementary school in October 2008, starting first with a trial month to see how it worked out in practice.

Students liked it, teachers liked it, and it wasn’t costing the district a cent.

Before Morenci’s program got underway, 29 percent of the district’s students qualifying for free meals and 13 percent qualifying for reduced price meals were eating breakfast at school. Now the numbers have increased to 51 and 58 percent.

“We are considered severe need because we’re over 50 percent free and reduced,” Kutzley said, referring to the percentage of the school district’s families that qualify.

Kutzley knows that not all parents are pleased with every items served, but the program operates with what can be obtained through the National School Lunch Program.

“We do what we can,” she said.

Her first preference is to order reduced-sugar cereal and whole grain Pop Tarts. A cheese stick is also served. The beverages served this year are still 100 percent juice, but the new packaging provides shelf-stable juice without refrigeration. Fresh fruit is served when available. Some new items will be tried next year.

Kutzley said some students save an item for later and that’s fine with her.

“Whatever we can do to keep them full,” she told the board.

“We knew there were free and reduced families out there, but I never realized the magnitude until we started this,” she said. “It is a lot of work, but we have to do it. There’s a big, big need for it.”

The most the district pays is 85 cents per breakfast, but reimbursement covers the entire cost.

The universal breakfast is in its second year at the elementary school and this is the first year for the middle school. A greater variation is served at the middle school since to the kitchen facilities are on site.

Superintendent Michael Osborne said it’s very impressive the way the teachers and other staff members have embraced the program, despite the extra work involved.

“It is a lot of work,” Kutzley said, “but there’s a need so we’re happy to do it.”

Morenci was the first district in the county to offer universal breakfast, Fisher said, and there are still very few following suit. Representatives from Sand Creek recently visited to take a look, Kutzley said, so that district may give it a try.

School board member Phil McCaskey encouraged parents to investigate the free and reduced program. Pride might make it difficult to fill out the form, he said, but no one chooses to face economic hardship through lay-off.

Students who have a good breakfast have been found to:

• Score better on standardized tests;

• Show improved academic acheivement;

• Have fewer health issues;

• Behave better in class.

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