Muskegon Heights High School teacher scores Recipient of Golden Apple Award three consecutive years


- Legal News Photos by Diana L. Coleman


By Diana L. Coleman

Legal News

C.E. Ohan has set an unheard of precedence for the Muskegon County Bar Association. This enthusiastic high school teacher of law, government, and economics classes has scored the Golden Apple Award for the third year running.

Ohan teaches U.S. history from the Colonial stages through reconstruction, and concentrates on the Bill of Rights. He also teaches pre-law and senior seminar. In his pre-law classes his students become actively involved in learning about due process, civil and criminal law, and historical cases that have set precedence.

Ohan’s methods of teaching force the students to become involved. He teaches them to use independent thinking, and he doesn’t accept excuses. It must work—his students all seem to think he is the greatest.

His nomination for the award this year was submitted by his students, with each student signing the letter. The nomination letter follows:

“When it comes to law, I know a lot more than what I did because of Mr. Ohan’s class. I know about the rule of law, how the constitution works, my rights as a citizen, etc. When we’re talking about the Constitution we talk about the Amendments and the Bill of Rights, which was formed due to the Federalist and Anti-Federalist case. The limits of power by the government as well as the protection of our rights as citizens. In addition to that we discuss issues that go on around in the U.S. Issues that tie into the Constitution. Like the NRA: gun control which is covered by amendment two, rights to bare arms. So if everybody has the knowledge that I have, we will become better citizens because not everybody knows their rights and the effects it has on us. If you look into the past before the rule of law was enforced we’ve got people who were being discriminated against, but because the law has been supported we have both male and female voting no matter what race they are. The lack of equal opportunity has gays being denied the rights to marry until recently in some states, thanks to implied powers helping amendment ten to change that. You got the constitution to thank for that because if the law says everyone has rights then we are all equal! As time goes by new laws could be added or as history can tell us the laws that have affected the past have made things better for the future. Therefore, I plan to continue to expand my knowledge of law and how it effects me and my fellow man. I think that Mr. Ohan is already recognized for his law/Am-Gov class by us. He would’ve earned your favor if you would agree to do the same. Just to remind you that we will be on the internet again because of another constitutional project called “Y”. For other work search Zeke Ohan with “Google” or “Yahoo”. Authored by Marquel Martin—Class of 2012.”

Ohan’s students work in teams and must present a timeline each trimester. The students take a written test and do a dry run before making their presentation on the entire decade. Each student takes a portion of the decade to present, but each student must be prepared to present any portion of the decade in the event that someone is missing on presentation day. “The students compete against each other for extra credit,” said Ohan. “They must know every part of the timeline for the written test and presentation. The class and other faculty members vote on the timelines that will go up in the classroom. About three or four timelines don’t make the votes necessary to go up in the classroom and these are sent to the middle or elementary schools as learning tools.”

Textbooks used in Ohan’s law classes are A Course in Practical Law, Arbetman and O’Brien 7th edition 2005; and Street Law by Arbetman, O’Brien, Washington D.C.  Some of the course requirements include understanding the influence of due process and the rule of law; analyzing, evaluating, and justifying the selection and confirmation process of federal judges; the impact of Amendments on the constitutional development of rights and liberties; outlining the process of civil and criminal trials, learn to research and respond to issues of, but not limited to, racial profiling; and presenting a mini-court using such issues as affirmative action, equal protection, women’s rights, and immigration reform.

Ohan’s econ class is thriving. The students have caught on quickly and are enjoying the class. The students formed a mock-company called “WBP” or “We Be Poppin.” The students man a popcorn stand in the hall and the proceeds are given to the MATS bus system to offset the cost for Muskegon Heights students who have to ride the MATS bus to school since funding cuts eliminated the school bus service. This is a great help to the students who have to ride the bus to school—particularly in the winter months when it is not safe to walk. It is an awesome service project and gives the students a sense of pride in helping others.

Ohan’s class also prepared a YouTube video following the announcement that their school is one of the worst in the State. “The students are incredible,” said Ohan. “The video is the student body’s way of being proactive instead of reactive to the Muskegon Chronicle’s article that did a totally negative portrayal of the students, teaches and entire Muskegon Heights school system. I am really proud of them.”

The class mock trial this year was the case of Roth vs. United States (1957). The case was about the First Amendment—Freedom of Expression, and established the “prurient interest” standard. In the mock trail, the French Connection United Kingdom had T-Shirts imprinted with FCUK and were told they could not wear them. The litmus test for the issue was, “What is considered obscene? Or, is there any redeeming value either political or social?”

Ms. Collins, the office secretary, judged the mini-mock trial this year. The students were divided into prosecution or defense and did their own research and brief writing.

Ohan is a native of California and received a degree in political science from Clemson University.  Following Clemson he played professional football for Atlanta and the Detroit Lions.  A football injury made him think about the future and he decided to attend Sierra Nevada University on an accelerated track and received his teaching credentials focusing in interactive methods and learning theories.

Ohan started his teaching career at the Muskegon Heights Middle School, then went on to teach at the high school.

He has an extremely busy summer planned. Ohan is going to attend an Econ Camp in Texas, do historical Colonial studies in Virginia, go to Louisiana and do service learning related to hurricane Katrina with the “City of Neighborhoods” program.

He continues to grow and push his students to do the same. Ohan is always pursuing advanced educational skills to learn new and innovative ways to reach his students and make them want to excel.