#1StudentNWI: Portage prepares for the tricks and treats of October

#1StudentNWI: Portage prepares for the tricks and treats of October

What's recently happened? 

The 2023 fall play rehearsals are in full swing. The Portage High School (PHS) Thespians are putting on “The Witch’s Princess” by Don Zolidis, which is about an evil witch who has cursed an entire kingdom, and Princess Alessandra has taken matters into her own hands and decided to kill the witch herself to lift the curse. This particular play is told in the style of Dungeons & Dragons.

The after school practices have been going well according to the cast. The group just recently had its first practice and is rehearsing without the assistance of their lines and books. There has also been a lot of time dedicated to the various sets and prop building during the rehearsals.

“We are creating full scale set pieces that include an ancient temple, a mushroom grove, and an 18-foot-tall hut on chicken legs,” said Mahaffa Thompson, the head of the theater department. “In costume, we have to create an eight-foot-tall lifelike dragon that can also speak and shake hands like a dog.”

The cast and crew can’t wait to put on this show for the community. “The Witch’s Princess” will hit the PHS stage on November 17 and 18 at 7 p.m for both performances. 

“The ticket is cheaper than dinner at McDonald’s, it’s funnier than a football game, and it has sword fighting,” said Mahaffa.

What’s coming up?

The highly anticipated Trunk or Treat event is coming back for another year of fun! The PHS Academic Boosters is bringing it back for a third year, and this frightfully fun event is a great way for all Portage families to enjoy the community. Various cars and displays will be set up around the school. 

Trunk or Treat will take place on Thursday, October 19 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the West parking lot. The cost will be $10 per family or $5 for each high school student. There will be 55 groups passing out candy this year.

Some of the groups that have already have signed up for this year are the Portage Police Department Swat Team and K-9 Teams, the Portage Fire Department, the Portage Firefighters Union, the PHS football team, the PHS cheerleading team, the PHS Porta-Botz, the PHS Thespians, Advanced Dental Concepts, Portage Junior Miss, the PHS Boys Basketball tea,, the PHS swim and dive team, PHS track & field, NWI FORCE Cheerleading, and Benchwarmers, to name a few. 

All proceeds made from Trunk or Treat will be going right back to PHS students in forms of scholarships, perfect attendance awards, Thanksgiving and Christmas meal baskets for families, and so much more.

If any other organizations are interested in participating in this year’s Trunk or Treat, they can contact Melissa Johnson at melissa.johnson@portage.k12.in.us. 

Staff spotlight:

Charlotte Hernandez is a six year veteran English teacher at Fegely Middle School and now serves as the Newspaper class teacher as well. Newspaper is a class where students are responsible for publishing the school’s monthly newsletter, the weekly sports report, and the weekly good news report all focused on the happenings of Fegley. Hernandez once began the Newspaper as just a club, but with her positive attitude and help from her students, Newspaper is now a fully functioning class and after school club to include all students.

“I wanted to create this class because the kids really loved the club,” said Hernandez. “I thought it would be such a great opportunity for them to have a dedicated time during the school day. Having this class allows the students to work on the various publications that we were creating in our club and has really helped us accomplish more and highlight more of what is going on in our building.” 

Hernandez has known teaching was something she had always wanted to do for a very long time, and she fits the role perfectly. Her kind heart and dedication to all her students sets her apart from most any other teacher. 

“Be patient and kind,” she said. “Give students grace, but also give yourself grace. This is a challenging job, but it is also so rewarding.”

Hernandez is a mother of two children who are very involved with extracurricular activities. Hernandez enjoys the thrill of watching her son play various sports while her daughter participates in many activities as well. Though it seems like a busy schedule, Hernandez always makes sure that she is supporting her kids as much as possible while finding time for herself, too.

“My son plays hockey and tennis. He is involved in yearbook and robotics as well,” said Hernandez. “My daughter plays the violin, is an avid reader, and a crocheter. I love supporting them and watching them grow. I enjoy hiking, kayaking, and going to the beach. I love to walk the shoreline and collect beach glass. It is such a calming activity.” 

Even though she is such a wonderful teacher already, she aspires to be like her teacher role models and fellow Fegely teachers Mindy Malaski and Lisa Norman. Hernandez’s life motto and advice to all is to be kind.

Student spotlight:

Senior Elaina DeLeon is a star on all levels: in the theater department of PHS, on the school’s morning show, “Indian’s News Network” (INN), and when it comes to her drive and dedication to her education as well. Though this seems like a lot to handle, DeLeon uses poise and grace to make juggling life look easy. 

DeLeon is a proud member of the Thespians, the theatre arts community at PHS. She is a great role model to all members because of not only her past experiences in many theatre departments but because she is a triple threat: DeLeon can sing, dance, and act. These skills are hard to master on their own let alone together. DeLeon claims dance is her favorite because of the rush of adrenaline she gets while doing it with friends. Being able to continue her love of theatre in college is the dream for DeLeon so she can continue practicing her skills. 

“I started dancing when I was about 3 or 4 and I loved it from the start,” said DeLeon. “I got into acting when I was 9 or 10 after I went to a show on a field trip with my elementary school. After that trip I went on to perform little plays for my parents in the kitchen. When it comes to singing, I definitely think that I am not the best; however, I have multiple friends and family tell me otherwise. Even though I am not a choir student, that still won’t stop me from belting out a killer show tune when I’m alone in my car!”

When she’s not working hard in the theater, DeLeon is working hard in the newsroom. She has brought a new segment to “INN” called the “Arts Desk” which will shed some light on all the arts-related programs and after school activities at PHS. So far, DeLeon has covered the Homecoming parade and is excited to continue featuring departments that deserve coverage.

“This is the first time ‘INN’ has seen anything like this. My art desk is like a sports desk, but instead of talking about sports I would like to talk about everything in the arts. I plan to cover events that are going on with the PHS dance team, music, theater, and visual arts. I don’t have the whole year planned out with my segments, but I am very excited to see where it goes.”

DeLeon is currently working towards her goal of getting into college. Her current top school is the University of Indianapolis where she hopes to get her major in theatre and a minor in professional writing in English. 

Aside from education, DeLeon values her free time. She plans on reading 1,000 books by the time she is 30, and she hopes to one day see a Broadway show in New York City. Overall, DeLeon encourages everyone to shoot for the stars and try everything there is to offer at PHS.

“I would definitely say that, if someone is thinking about doing something, they should just go ahead and do it,” DeLeon said. “The worst thing that can happen is it doesn’t work out, but at least you tried. There is so much more at the school that I missed out on because I didn’t try, so just try it!”