What’s recently happened?
As the 2023 spring sports season at Portage High School (PHS) wrapped up, the annual Spring Sports Awards Ceremony was held for the athletes involved in baseball, softball, Boys Golf, Girls Tennis, Boys Volleyball, and the various track and field teams. This night was to celebrate the accomplishments of the team as a whole, as well as individual successes throughout the respective seasons.
Each team awards a Most Improved Athlete, the Indian Award, and the Most Valuable Player (MVP) on their respective teams. A majority of the awards are voted on by the players of the teams themselves.
Listed below are the 2023 MVPs from each spring sport:
Unified Track - Robbie Shupe
Softball - Emmerson Ross
Baseball - Mark Calmbacher
Girls Tennis - Nevaeh Shively
Boys Track & Field - Jae’den Roberts
Girls Track & Field - Kylie Byrd
Boys Volleyball - Gavin Neibel
Boys Golf - Colin Szczudelak
What’s coming up?
With the conclusion of the 2023 school year at Portage High School (PHS), summer break has officially begun for the students; however, with the football season just around the corner in the fall, the summer camps for the PHS football team are in full swing. New Head Coach Roydon Richards has high hopes and expectations for the new “FAMILY” that is being formed.
“This program will take on a ‘FAMILY’ feel that will create memories for the rest of our lives,” said Richards. “We want all of our kids to have a great time as they work hard and improve their skills. We build culture through our activities together, and we want to create a ‘FAMILY’ environment that is inviting and encouraging.”
During the summer, Richards has a set schedule for the trainees. The team will run through practices on Tuesdays and Thursdays, while on Wednesdays the team will go over film and do some strength and conditioning. Apart from this, there will also be five scrimmage days where PHS will take on other schools for the learning experience.
“I love summer football and hope that the guys here will feel the same as we progress through the camp,” Richards said. “Our goal is to continue implementing our system as well as raise the level of physicality and toughness among the players.”
Although Richards admires the Portage defensive side of the game, he hopes to add to the overall toughness of the line once the season officially begins. The summer camp this year will have a closer focus on the defensive line and on offense to ensure a high scoring game for PHS.
“We would like to implement a more aggressive style – one that matches our personality and skill sets. We are fast, and we want to play fast, even on defense,” said Richards.
In the end though, Richards’ first year as the head coach for the PHS football summer camp will include a more “FAMILY” feel that he hopes will connect the team more on, and off, the field. The effects of the camp will transform this year’s 2023 PHS Football Team into a groundbreaking team and family.
With over seven years of teaching experience, Andrea Pappas is PHS’ go-to teacher for learning the fundamentals of the Spanish language. Her passion for the classroom and overall presence is a powerful force to be reckoned with. Perhaps the way she carries herself comes from her past experiences living in different countries and also serving in the Indiana Army National Guard for four years.
Before living in Northwest Indiana, Pappas grew up on the island of Puerto Rico, then later moved to Boston, Massachusetts. When she was picking a field of study, Pappas knew that the Spanish language would not leave her life so easily.
“I’m Puerto Rican, so I grew up speaking Spanish at home,” said Pappas “I had always been interested in languages and linguistics, so teaching Spanish was a natural progression for me. I also minored in sociology, which taught me how to critically think about cultures, diversity and social issues. I felt that my background and those courses of study would be a great combination in a classroom setting.”
Once Pappas graduated from Indiana University, she made it her goal to be in a classroom setting. After she made it into the classroom, Pappas took many of the lessons she learned from her time in the Indiana Army National Guard and transformed them into appropriate classroom guidelines and expectations.
“The military served me very well. By being a part of it, I learned the importance of setting a positive example because when you lead by example, people will follow,” she said. “I learned the importance of accountability, of taking pride in my person, and of being dependable. I teach Spanish, but I also pride myself in teaching underlying skills that these students can take home and into the workforce.”
In her free time, Pappas works out, reads, and sews. She hopes to one day in the future be able to travel the world and eventually build a school in a developing country. Although she is unsure of when that may happen, Pappas continues to research new, engaging ways to keep students active and excited in the classroom.
Senior Class President Isaac Thomas is happily awaiting the future of his career in the music industry as an indie-pop artist. Thomas’ stage name - Orion León - has taken the Portage district by storm and has led Thomas to many grand opportunities music-wise.
“I have been making music since I was 16,” said Thomas. “I honestly started making music as a ‘Why not?’ type of thing. I would always sing around the house and around friends I trusted to hear me sing, so I was like, ‘What if I started actually making music?’ It was from there that a little 16-year-old me started making music and writing songs.”
Thomas finds his inspiration through creators Omar Apollo and Tyler, The Creator. Both have inspired Thomas because of not only the representation of diversity from Tyler, The Creator but representation of artists from the Northwest Indiana area like Apollo. Apollo’s living relatively close to the Portage area made the dream of becoming an artist more obtainable for Thomas.
Aside from the music industry, Thomas is a very busy man. Like mentioned before, Thomas is the class president of the Senior Class of 2023. He also dedicates a part of his time to the National Honor Society, where he is the vice president.
“I use my calendar more than ever to keep track of assignments and deadlines for school and music,” he said. “It’s stressful at times, but I find my way.”
If his life gets stressful and chaotic, Thomas looks to his family for strength and motivation to keep going. Thomas’ family is his real motivation to continue to make music. He believes that his creations can help assist his family throughout potential struggles.
One personal motto Thomas has is if you think you can do it, go do it. If you fail at it, at least you can say that you tried to do it. Thomas knows that there is more to life than what someone else thinks about your life.
Thomas will continue his artistry full time under the name of Orion León as he transitions into life after high school. Thomas would also like to say thank you to his management for getting him this far, and he is excited to continue to drop new music this summer.