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Troy High School students take hands-on approach to learning anatomy

TROY – Some concepts are so complex that the best way to learn them is the hands-on approach. 

The students in Page Davis’ anatomy and physiology classes at Troy High School have the opportunity to get an up close and personal – as well as three-dimensional – look at how the human body and all of its internal systems work, thanks in part to the “Anatomy in Clay” learning system. 

The “Anatomy in Clay” learning system includes MANIKENs (plastic skeletons around which the clay is formed), clay, tools and reference materials for two full anatomy sections. 

"’The mind cannot forget what the hands have learned.’ This is the slogan for Anatomy in Clay,” Davis said. “In a learning system of rote memorization, muscle actions such as abduction, flexion, etc. have little context, therefore are less relevant to students and become harder to learn and understand. Instead, by interacting in a hands-on fashion with the MANIKIN, students can make inferences linking anatomical structures with their functions.

“Students can use these to learn about many body systems, including making nerves (with yellow clay), arteries (red), veins (blue), lymph vessels and nodes (green), et cetera. We can also model organs prior to dissecting them to improve the experience. There are 7 colors of clay for these purposes. The clay lasts 10-15 years without drying out.”

Davis and THS Science Department Chair first saw “Anatomy in Clay” four years ago at a conference, and have been working diligently since then to bring them to Troy High School. 

"The desire for obtaining this system came about in November 2019 when several of us, including me and Jason Orsborne, attended the National Science Teaching Association Conference in Cincinnati,” Davis said. “I attended a hands-on workshop where we built the rotator cuff muscles that I had my students begin with this week. Jason saw the booth in the vendor hall. We agreed we had to have it!”

The “Anatomy in Clay” system came with a hefty price tag, but thanks to a grant from the Miami County Foundation, students will be able to use it this year and for years to come.

"This was a Miami County Foundation grant in the amount of $9,500,” Davis said. “It covered purchasing the complete system for two full anatomy sections, which will accommodate up to 48 students. Jason and I began writing this grant in June 2020 when it was clear we would not have district funds to purchase it. Getting it to the right organization took time, but we shot for the stars and landed in the Andromeda Galaxy!”

Davis said MANIKENs have been a big hit with students in her two anatomy and physiology classes. 

“The students are very excited and fully engaged,” she said. “They are not anxious for the class period to end! Most feel it will help them learn anatomy more effectively.”


2023-24 School calendar now available

The Troy Board of Education has unanimously approved the calendar for the 2023-24 school year.

A full copy of the calendar is available HERE

Here are some key dates to remember:

  • The first day of school for students will be Aug. 23. 

  • There will be no school on Sept. 4, which is Labor Day. 

  • Students will be dismissed two hours early on Sept. 15.

  • There will be a fall break Oct. 6-10. There will be no school on these dates. 

  • The final day of the first quarter is Oct. 27.

  • There will be a 2-hour early dismissal on Nov. 10

  • Schools will be closed Nov. 22-26 for Thanksgiving break. 

  • There will be a 2-hour early dismissal on Dec. 20, the final day before the holiday break. 

  • The holiday break will run from Dec. 21 to Jan. 2, 2024.

  • The final day of the second quarter will be Jan. 12, 2024. 

  • School will be closed Jan. 15, 2024 in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

  • School will be closed Feb. 16 and Feb. 19, 2024.

  • The final day of the third quarter will be March 22, 2024. 

  • Spring break will run from March 23-31, 2024. 

  • There will be a 2-hour early dismissal April 19, 2024. 

  • Commencement for the Class of 2024 will be May 25, 2024. 

  • School will be closed May 27, 2024 for Memorial Day. 

  • The final day of school for students in grades K-11 will be May 30, 2024.


THS marching band to perform in London's New Year's Day Parade


TROY – The Troy High School marching band is known throughout Ohio as one of the top bands in the state. 

In less than two weeks, however, the band will get to share its immense talents on another continent as it travels to London to perform in London’s New Year’s Day Parade. A contingent of 55 band members and 48 family members and community members will make the trip, which has been in the planning stages for more than a year. The group will leave Dec. 26, perform in the parade on Jan. 1 and return home Jan. 2.

“We are so happy to be going back,” Troy High School Director of Bands Molly Venneman said. “This is an incredible opportunity for our kids. For many of them, it will be their first time traveling overseas. And for a lot of them, it may be the only chance they get to travel overseas. These kids have been working so hard not only getting ready to go as a band, but also raising money to help pay for the cost of the trip.”

This will be the band’s fifth trip to London, with the first coming in 2002. The band had been returning every four years since then to ensure every interested student had the opportunity to attend once during their high school careers, but the global pandemic threw that schedule off track. This will be the first time the Trojans have traveled to London since 2016-17. 

“We were supposed to go last school year, and planning for this trip usually takes around 18 months,” Venneman said. “That was in the middle of the pandemic, and we didn't feel good about asking people to fundraise or save for a trip that we weren't sure was going to happen.  The parade last year ended up being only United Kingdom entries, so it worked out.”

During the parade, the band will be playing a selection that includes “Handclap,” “You Belong With Me” and a series of drum cadences. 

The parade is scheduled to begin at noon in London (7 a.m. in Troy), but the band does not yet know what its place in the parade will be. Those wishing to watch the parade back at home can find it on ThinkTV 14HD (Spectrum 1004). For more information,

Troy High School freshman Olivia McElwee takes masterclass from Broadway performer

Olivia McElwee dreams of one day performing professionally in musical theatre, perhaps even making it all the way to Broadway. 

“I’ve been singing since a very young age. I love singing. I’ve thought about this,” the Troy High School freshman said. “Singing is something I’m definitely considering. I would love to do this for a living. Musical theatre would be so cool as a job.”

McElwee recently had the opportunity to meet and work with someone who is living that very dream. McElwee was one of a dozen local performers selected to work with professional singer Aaron LaVigne as part of a TheatreLab Dayton masterclass. LaVigne is originally from Cincinnati, but currently lives in New York City and has appeared in both Broadway and off-Broadway shows. He recently was in Dayon performing as Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar at The Schuster Center.

“We saw Jesus Christ Superstar at The Schuster Center, and so my mom (Holly) started following the guy who played Jesus (LaVigne) on Instagram, and he announced he was having a masterclass for the people of Dayton, who could audition for it. I was interested in it, and so I sent in an audition tape and I got in.

“I was so excited, because they only took like 12 people from the Dayton area that auditioned, and the fact that I was one of those people was so exhilarating. Most of the other people who were selected were adults. I was the youngest person there.”

Troy High School choir teacher Rachel Sagona was not at all surprised McElwee was selected to participate in the masterclass with LaVigne. 

“Olivia is the best kind of student,” Sagona said. “Not only is she engaged, hardworking and talented, but she has a great attitude, is coachable and is one of the most helpful students. She brings the fun!” 

McElwee said the opportunity to learn form and work with a Broadway performer was invaluable as she continues her own singing career.

“We learned how to act through music,” she said. “It was very much based around musical theater. The performers that were there would sing part of a song, and the guy who played Jesus would give you further feedback on how to connect with the material, and just put some acting into it.”

Sagona said the opportunity will also give McElwee added confidence to pursue her dream. 

“This was a great confidence booster,” Sagona said. “It is one thing to have your mom and choir teacher tell you how good you are, but to hear it from someone in the Broadway community who has never met you before has got to be a boost for knowing that you can do this if you want. She has that potential and the drive to take her music anywhere she wants.”

McElwee said the chance to work with LaVigne has only furthered her resolve to continue her singing career.

“It put things in a more practical sense, because he kind of explained what he did, how he made a living in between shows, the casting process, that kind of thing,” McElwee said. “It was just a great experience.”

Olivia McElwee and Aaron LaVigne