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

  • Shadow.salon
    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
  • 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.

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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