The Ophir School Newspaper is a joint production of Outlaw Partners and the aspiring Middle-School Journalists of Ophir School, who are self-assigning the content and reporting and photographing the stories you see here. The Ophir School Newspaper will appear on two pages of the Big Sky Weekly throughout the school year. -Barbara Rowley, Ophir School Newspaper advisor

Trouble with the economy:

Fifth grade teacher says there is always room for improvement

By Julia Barton

Mr. Neal, the fifth grade teacher at Ophir School, has had an economic system in his classroom for several years. Recently, he sent out a survey about how his ‘classroom economy’ was working.

If you were a parent or a teacher in one of his past classes, you probably got this survey. Mr. Neal says the results have taught him a lot. Ninety-eight percent of parents and 97 percent of students’ parents said they wanted it to continue, and nearly 80 percent of students and teachers said they were extremely satisfied.

“Overall, things are going great,” Mr. Neal said. “But some people were unhappy with the program.”

Mr. Neal believes some unhappiness appears to come from a lack of understanding about how the economy—in which kids have jobs, pay rent and conduct other transactions in Neal Bucks—works.
Kids can be fined for various things such as dishonesty, lack of participation or struggling to turn in homework, Mr. Neal explained. But they can also be rewarded for other things like clean desks, good deeds, good grades, coming in to get extra help and participating in extracurricular activities.

“I pay kids every time that they come in for extra help before or after school or during recess,” Mr. Neal says. “So, even a student who never earns a single A can theoretically earn more in one week than an A student can earn acing tests. This promotes hard work.”

Others were concerned that students who were police officers were giving other children fines that weren’t fair. Mr. Neal says these respondents might not have been aware of a strict policy that all fines will be run by him before Neal Bucks are taken from the child. If the actions of the kid are questionable for a fine, Mr. Neal requests multiple witnesses, and if the case is questionable, the fine will be revoked.

Mr. Neal has already started to make changes in the economy, and he says the survey has helped him improve its operation.

“In the past, I have allowed each property owner to decide if they want to sell the desk back to the tenant or not. I have made the decision that if a student earns enough money to buy their desks back, the property owner must sell the desk back to the tenant.”
Mr. Neal thinks this will help because then kids will not complain about not being able to ever buy their desks. However, in keeping with Mr. Neal’s philosophy of having his classroom economy mimic the real one, property owners hoping to buy back their desks will encounter another real life factor.

“There will now be ‘inflation’ introduced to the fifth grade economy. Each quarter, the price of desks will increase by $100 Neal Bucks.”

Big Sky Dummy Jump


Sixth Grader Tina Barton and her dad Kevin huddle pre-launch with their Dummy Jump Entry, Sweet Thing, built with OMS students Sam Johnson and Harry, Maisie and Andrew Schriener. Sweet Thing took a sweet fall this year before she jumped.
LPHS students Nick McTaggart, Dan Bartzick, Tommy Tosic and Jace Morgan huddle pre-launch with their Dummy Jump Entry, Lone Peak Scholar. Other Ophir School student entries were “Dougie” by the Schumacher family and Sweet Thing, an annual entry from the Johnson, Schriener, Barton families.

The First Place:
A pub you’re going to love

By Helena Sacchi
It is 6:15 p.m. and every table is full at the new First Place Pub. There are only three empty seats at the bar, out of eight. More locals are going to the First Place, for a pub where the service, food and décor are 5 stars.

“We are not a bar with food, we are a restaurant with drinks,” manager David McCune said.

McCune grew up in Denver, went to high school in Texas, and attended the University of Albany in New York. He has worked in Big Sky for the last eight years.
“We are very supported by locals,” McCune said. He loves the restaurant’s location in the Meadow Village Center, he says, because with all the nearby activities, many people stop in.

The food is well seasoned, flavorful and very sophisticated for a pub. The only downside for me was the French fries, until I learned to dip them in their firecracker sauce.

Appetizers are a favorite, though all of the food is amazing, and the plates are big. If there are only two of you, two appetizers, one main dish and one dessert is plenty. McCune says they try to use fish and game from local suppliers, and also try to stay along the lines of traditional Big Sky food, with dishes like bison.

The First Place used to be a more formal restaurant, now it’s just a place to go for a quick bite. Some food favorites are the Panko encrusted fish and chips and the house made gyro. They currently have only one main chef named Ben Sadler. If they can hire more, they’ll start doing a Sunday brunch, and lunch and dinner in the summer.

The restaurant was closed nine years ago when the owners Curly and Kelly Shea moved their operation up the mountain to create The Cabin. It reopened on Jan. 12 this year. They are now closed Tuesdays and Wednesday.

The First Place name has an interesting history. First it was called the Yellow Mule, then Vince Furst came and named it The Furst Place, and when Curly Shea took over he renamed it The First Place.

Art attack: Pie auction art preview

By Elizabeth Quackenbush

This year, like many in the past, the Ophir School and Lone Peak High students will be working with their teachers to make magic with art in the name of fundraising for the school at Pie Auction 2012.

Ophir and LPHS teachers are thrilled to be making art. Ms. Swanke, the art teacher, has led her students in making wonderful and creative pieces.

Here’s a preview of what parents and other bidders have to look forward to at the March 10 event:

The sixth and eighth grade classes both made a brightly colored flower on a black piece of paper using different pictures of a flower and putting them together to make one.

The mixed media picture of the seventh grade looked amazing. It was a picture of a skier in mid-jump on a canvas painted baby blue. Cut outs of the names of the seventh graders, as well as creative words about winter surround the image.
Ceramics II, a high school class, is making a vase with Ms. Swanke. The ceramic vase is well crafted and finely smoothed.

In Art I, the class made a great drawing of a Nez-Perce chief Raven Blanket. Using watercolors, the class painted the entire canvas. The watercolor soaks down the canvas.

Mr. Neal has put together a pie auction art that is undercover. When I asked him about his class’s work, he said simply: “Our class’s pie auction art is a secret. All I can tell you is that they used old skis and made a functioning piece.” Curious? You’ll have to wait and see what it turns out to be at the Pie Auction 2012.

Ms. Frouny’s class took on an extra creative project this year. Each student drew a picture of Big Sky in the winter, transferred it onto a piece of clay, and framed the clay.

Look for all of these pieces and more, at Pie Auction 2012 at Buck’s T-4 on March 10.

OMS students play serious tag

By Elizabeth Quackenbush
Have you ever wanted to shoot someone?

There is now an opportunity for you to shoot your friends and not go to jail. Big Sky Resort’s new Laser Tag course offers an experience to challenge your friends, shoot mini lasers of Co2 across a field of snow, and hide behind snow-covered furniture to avoid being shot.

The six girls in the Ophir School Newspaper Club got to experience this exciting new game and all loved crouching down in the snow, waiting for the perfect moment to fire at friends.

“I have always wanted to shoot a gun, now I live minutes away from an awesome time,” Helena Sacchi said.

Katie Hoffman said she would come back every day if she could.

“It was fun learning how to shoot ammo and creating alliances. Also breaking them,” said Katie Middleton, laughing.

“I had fun, but always remember to bring warmer clothes. But even my freezing legs couldn’t bring me away from this fun course,” advised Abigail Hogan.

Laser tag begins at 4:30 p.m. every day at the resort on the tennis courts. Make reservations at least 48 hours in advance at Basecamp. It starts with a tutorial on how to use a gun, what is in the gun, and how it all works.

You would think that lasers would hurt if they came near your face or in your eyes. But the lasers are completely invisible to the naked eye and can’t hurt you. When the laser contacts with your gun, a remote beeps, letting you know you’ve been hit.

Our instructor Sam Isham helped us with all we know. He showed us the basics of gun handling and even played a few rounds.

Be careful not to use all of your Co2, or else you’ll be out. Laser tag is a fun base camp activity for all ages, but be warned…everyone might turn on you.