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.
  • 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.
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Fast food: Students take closer look

Written by David Green.


Jeff Snyder claims he won’t be eating as much fast food anymore and he knows he’s going to close the door completely on certain items.

For classmate Derek Barnhart, the impact of a summer school course was even greater.

“I’m not going to eat there forever,” he said in reference to McDonald’s restaurants.

Robert Fox, another member of the class, plays the middle ground. He knows he won’t eat as much fast food as in the past, but it’s Wendy’s that he prefers and that chain gets a rating as one of the healthiest fast food restaurants.

The three boys were part of a class taught by Morenci Area High School teacher Heather Whitehouse, who led a dozen students on an examination of fast food and marketing techniques. It all began with a movie called “Super Size Me.”

The documentary film chronicles 30 days in the life of Morgan Spurlock, a man who decided to go on a McDonald’s diet. For one month, Spurlock ate nothing but McDonald’s food. He had to eat everything on the menu at least once, and, when offered, he supersized. Spurlock’s weight went up as his health went down.

His own adventure is the backdrop to the movie, but Spurlock also explores the rising tide of obesity in America, the lack of exercise for many students and the food served in schools.

“I loved that movie and I really wanted to do something with it,” Mrs. Whitehouse said.

She knew the movie itself wasn’t enough to work with, so she did some research to expand the topic. An educationally-enhanced version of the film provided several resources and she picked up some additional ideas in a teaching magazine. She soon had far more than enough material for a two-week class.

It isn’t merely the concept of fast food that Mrs. Whitehouse wanted her students to examine critically; it’s what those restaurants serve. One of the students’ assignments was to create ideas for a healthier fast food establishment.

“I think it could be done,” Barnhart said.

Snyder talked about a family-owned fast-food restaurant in the movie that bought its supplies from local growers—including meat minus the growth hormones and antibiotics.

Beyond that, preparation would be the key to an alternative restaurant.

“It would serve the same food,” Snyder said, “just a lot healthier.”


It wasn’t just McDonald’s that the kids examined; they were also forced to take a good look at themselves. A 48-hour food and exercise log was kept and the results were compared with standard guidelines.

“They were amazed at how poor their diets are and how little exercise some of them were getting,” Mrs. Whitehouse said.

Her ideas of exercise have changed dramatically since she was a student sitting at a desk at Morenci Area High School.

“I used to think physical education classes were such a waste of time, but they’re not.”

The challenge her students faced, however, came from thinking about how to change “gym class” from what it is to what it could become.

“I asked them to think about the most unathletic person they knew and then to think about how the class could be changed to make it appealing to them.”

That’s a tough one, Snyder admitted, but he now knows that non-athletes need to think about staying in shape, too, and schools should be thinking about how to address the need.

Taking aim

Robert Fox describes what he learned about advertising as “a real eye opener.” Derek Barnhart and Jeff Snyder agreed. They’re now looking at commercials from a different perspective.

 Mrs. Whitehouse called one segment of her class “Lies we’re told and how they can hurt us: marketing, propaganda and teens.”

“We took a broader look at how items are marketed toward teens,” she said. “I wanted the kids to go from being passive observers to realizing they’re being manipulated.”

A list of propaganda techniques brings to mind ads from the recent political season—fear tactics, doublespeak, glittering generalities, name-calling, acting like plain folk—but Mrs. Whitehouse helped students see the same methods employed in ads for alcohol, tobacco, fashions and, of course, fast food.

“Ads try to convince kids to buy the latest and greatest,” she said. “They convince you to want to look like models. They make you want to be part of the crowd. They’re taking advantage of you and you’re not even aware of it. We live in a consumer culture and it’s ultimately about making money.”

There’s nothing random about the marketing, she said, and it’s all very obvious once you start looking for it.

And once you start writing your own.

That was another requirement in the propaganda unit—coming up with an idea for a new product and then creating an advertising campaign to market it. Students chose products of interest to them, such as clothes, electronic devices and car accessories, and then applied what they learned about propaganda to sell the good.

Supermodels endorsed running shoes and blue jeans, while a heavy metal musician claimed his own CDs were nothing next to the new release by a student’s band. Through creating their own ads, students could see how easy it is to influence potential customers.

Mrs. Whitehouse doesn’t know how much the class will change her students’ behavior when it comes to buying clothes or eating fast food, but she thinks they’ve definitely learned something.

“I don’t know if it’s going to change anything in terms of what they buy or eat, but they’re all going to be more critical consumers.”

- June 29, 2005 

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