Morenci school board 2012.12.12

Written by David Green.


A 13-year member of the Morenci Board of Education was honored last week at his final meeting.

Gary Ries first joined the board in April 1999 when he was appointed to fill a vacancy. He was elected two months later to fill out the vacancy, then elected to his first full term in 2000.

Superintendent of Schools Michael Osborne noted that Ries has served through some very busy times, some very difficult times and some joyous times.

"For the many issues you've helped guide us through, we offer our thanks and appreciation," Osborne said.

Newly-elected member Larry Bruce will join the board in January.

BUS—Osborne said the safety of students is a primary concern of school staff, and that includes the transportation system. The district's buses received a 100 percent inspection rating for two years in a row—not an easy thing to do, he said.

Osborne recognized transportation director Devon Vernier and mechanic Fred Wegner for their efforts.

Osborne noted that a discussion occurred about safety concerns in the school bus parking loop. An "alert" notice was sent to parents reminding them not to drive in the loop when buses are parked there. Additionally, traffic cones are now placed at the entrances of the loop.

STAFF—Board members approved the following: Zach Craig, volunteer middle school boys basketball coach; Robyn Taylor, volunteer cheerleading coach;  Emilie Beach, eighth grade girls basketball coach; and Brandy Woodring, part-time account clerk.

The board accepted the resignation of elementary school secretary Karen Wood. She also served as the alert message coordinator and put in a lot of extra effort, Osborne said. She is returning to a banking job that's closer to her home.

Laura Desmet, a paraprofessional who worked in the media lab, also resigned to take a position closer to her home.

Board members approved a settlement with former staff member Deb Hertler.

T.E.A.M. TIME—Counselor Diana Fallot explained the new T.E.A.M. Time program in the high school and middle school. The final 35 minutes of each Wednesday is spent with groups of 14 to 18 students and a teacher.

The program allows students from different grade levels to get to know one another better, Fallot said, and gives students the opportunity to develop some "soft skills" that aren't always learned in the classroom.

BAND—Osborne noted that at the recent band concert, the bleachers were completely full. The middle school, the high school band and the new jazz band all performed.

SERVICE—Due to a change in scheduling, teacher Sally Kruger told the board that the middle school Jr. Volunteer Club went by the wayside. Instead, she's using the final 30 minutes of her career class to take on various service projects. For example, she said, a library crew prepares the media center for board meetings. The class has also assumed responsibility for collecting recyclables in the school.

ANNOUNCER—Board member Phil McCaskey noted that an announcer is needed for the varsity girls basketball games.

POLICY—Policy updates from the company that reviews school policy books are now sent to all board members electronically.

  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.crossing
    Crossing over—Jim Heiney was given a U.S. flag to carry by George Vereecke (behind Jim in the hat), turning him into the leader of the parade. Bridge Walk participants cross over Bean Creek while, in the background, members of the Morenci Legion Riders cross the main traffic bridge on East Street South. Additional photos appear on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

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