Tuesday, Aug 30, 2016
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Education

Area schoolkids warm up for a gridiron collision

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    Monroe Road Elementary's Ibrahim Zebert, left, and Kurtis Ortman, both 7, mix it up with Seth Handy, 7.

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    Monroe Road Elementary technology specialist Tina Mortemore pumps up Michigan fans while on the other side of the cafeteria.

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    Rachel Lewandowski, Rosie Morningstar, Samantha Greeley, Kelsey Varwig, and Cortney Fornwale, all 9, lead a rousing cheer for the Ohio State side.

Spirits were high yesterday for today s big football game between Ohio State and the University of Michigan.

Some fans for both sides even stood on top of tables yelling at each other and chanting their teams names. But the raucous behavior didn t occur at a sports bar or on one of the competing teams campuses.

Elementary schoolchildren all over the Toledo area dressed in their favorite team s colors. Not surprisingly, most kids north of the border wore Michigan maize and blue, while most of those to the south wore Ohio State s scarlet and gray.

Teachers at Bedford Township s Monroe Road Elementary School could do little to control the excitement.

Jake Johnson, a third-grade student at the Michigan school, was squarely on the Ohio State side of a fiercely divided cafeteria yesterday.

I say it s going to be 28-21, with Ohio winning, proclaimed young Jake, donned in an Ohio State football jersey.

His two buddies backed him up before turning their attention to a shouting match that started on the Michigan side of the room which had nearly twice the number of third-graders.

Little girls dressed in Michigan cheerleader outfits sneered at boys wearing Ohio State shirts.

Fight songs blared in the background as Michigan fan Tristed Stevens, 8, made a bold prediction: I think it ll be a blowout. I m thinking Michigan by 30 points. Yeah, that s right! Thirty points.

Fifth-grade teacher Nikki Macke admitted she started the fun when she dumped a bucket of Buckeyes in the classroom of a fellow teacher who backs Michigan. We got this started and got the kids all riled up, she said. It s good fun.

Across the border in Ohio, most students were sure the No. 1-ranked Buckeyes would win today s clash with the No. 2 Wolverines.

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Rachel Lewandowski, Rosie Morningstar, Samantha Greeley, Kelsey Varwig, and Cortney Fornwale, all 9, lead a rousing cheer for the Ohio State side.

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At Toledo s Riverside Elementary School, students were set to play a flag football game Ohio State fans versus Michigan fans to predict the outcome of today s game.

Unfortunately, Thursday s rain flooded the playing field and foiled the plan, said Principal Romules Durant.

While there were fans of both sides at the North Toledo school, the students were split as one might expect heavily in favor of Ohio State.

Luis Dominguez, 10, said Ohio State would defeat Michigan today, but added it would be close.

Michigan fan Lenny Wielinski, also 10, disagreed.

Many schools from elementary to high school throughout northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan allow students to dress in team apparel or colors for the annual Michigan-Ohio State clash. This year, the hype of the Big Game was even heavier.

Some Toledo Public schools used the hype for a positive purpose: to collect food for the needy or other causes.

Keyser and Ottawa River elementary schoolchildren conducted food drives, with those representing the university that contributed the most declared the winners. At both schools, students supporting Ohio State brought in more cans of food and the real winners were the needy.

Ottawa River Principal Jeff Taylor said 90 percent of his students yesterday wore team apparel or team-logo face tattoos.

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Monroe Road Elementary technology specialist Tina Mortemore pumps up Michigan fans while on the other side of the cafeteria.

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We also had the kids separated in the lunchroom and let them have an opportunity to cheer for their teams, Mr. Taylor said. I would say probably two-thirds of the kids brought in food for the Ohio side.

At Ottawa River, the staff at Fairwood Chiropractic and Rehab, 5414 Monroe St., delivered 65 bags of cans to tip the overall scales in favor of Michigan.

Many of the students at each of the schools visited said they would be watching the game today. And on Monday, they agreed: Those supporting the winner would boast even more.

Contact Ignazio Messina at: imessina@theblade.com or 419-724-6171.

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