Morenci's school success acknowledged by state 04.27.2011

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

Morenci Area High School is one of more than 130 Michigan schools identified as Beating the Odds.

The Michigan Department of Education released a list of schools last week described as overcoming barriers to reach academic success. The school districts making the list face factors such as low economic status, race and ethnicity.

Morenci Superintendent of Schools Dr. Michael Osborne said he isn’t familiar with the study and the education department website doesn’t offer clear information about the news. Despite that, he’s pleased to see the district recognized for its achievement.

He assumes that socioeconomic factors are what placed the district on the list. For example, the number of families qualifying for free and reduced school lunches is high compared to other area districts.

Despite the economic challenges facing many families, high school students consistently score at or above the state average on annual testing.

In a press release from the state, Michigan Superintendent of Public Instruction Mike Flanagan said, “These are schools that are doing remarkable things to help their students achieve, despite the odds being stacked against them.”

One study identified schools performing above predicted levels. A second study—the one in which Morenci appeared—identified schools that perform better than a comparison group of school with similar demographics.

“What it really comes down to,” Dr. Osborne said, “is teachers in the classroom. It’s the impact of teachers and families, and the involvement of both.”

High school/middle school principal Stephen Philipp names several factors  that he’s observed as he’s gotten to know the staff in his first year with the district, including:

• The staff identifying academically weak students and encouraging these student to seek additional help, to prevent students from falling behind, getting discouraged, dropping out, etc.

• Parent notification of students performance, good or bad;

• Offering parents an option for improving students performance through the ZAP program and other after-school help.

• Parents holding their student accountable by helping that student make the best decisions to finish work and look beyond high school.

“These are just a few of the many things that add up to student success,” Philipp said. “I believe student success is multi-leveled.”

Teacher and staff involvement in students’ lives; community members involved in students’ lives; student expectations set by staff and community all play a role.

Staff and administrators now need to examine the data, Philipp said, and look closely at areas where the school is showing strengths and weaknesses.

Dr. Flanagan takes that a step further.

“If I were a local superintendent again, I would contact that school beating the odds and find out what they are doing and put those things in place in my schools,” Flanagan said.

  • Front.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks
  • Front.sculpta
    SCULPTORS—Morenci third grade students Emersyn Thompson (left) and Marissa Lawrence turn spaghetti sticks into mini sculptures Friday during a class visit to Stair District Library. All Morenci Elementary School classes recently visited the library to experience the creative construction toys purchased through the “Sculptamania!” project, funded by a Disney Curiosity Creates grant. The grant is administered by the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
  • 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.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.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2016