#1StudentNWI: Portage scores a slam dunk with Manufacturing 360, the 100th Anniversary of Boys Basketball, Fegely Principal Ann Marie Caballero, and Evelyn Garza

#1StudentNWI: Portage scores a slam dunk with Manufacturing 360, the 100th Anniversary of Boys Basketball, Fegely Principal Ann Marie Caballero, and Evelyn Garza

 What’s recently happened?

The Portage Economic Development Corporation in collaboration with Portage Township Schools hosted the Manufacturing 360 event with nearly 100 Portage High School (PHS) students. During this event, various training and job opportunities were showcased for interested students. 

For this trip, students visited the Construction Advancement Foundation (CAF), the Sheet Metal Workers Union, and a construction site run on Superior Construction. Before embarking on their trip, CAF Director of Professional Development Kevin Comerford showed students how to research careers in the manufacturing and construction fields. After, the students participated in various hands-on activities, including virtual welding, an excavator simulator, and more.

The students then traveled to the Sheet Metal Workers Local 20’s Portage Training Center, where the students learned about the career details, including work ethic, pay, and benefits. All of the students then worked with the apprentices at the union to build an iron toolbox to take home. 

The final stop of the day was a construction site at the Port of Indiana. While there, the students saw some of the equipment that was being used and heard from the workers about the project, various manufacturing jobs needed for the project, and what to consider when choosing a job in the manufacturing field. With this new experience from the Manufacturing 360 trip, students now have real world experience in a respected field in Portage.

What’s coming up?

The PHS Boys Basketball team has reached an incredible milestone this year. On December 2, 2023, the Boys Basketball team will be officially 100 years old! There will be a game on this day against Hobart High School at 2 p.m.

All Portage Boys Basketball alumni players are encouraged to come to the game. Those who attend will be recognized during halftime. Once the game has ended, there will be cake and drinks served in the North Cafeteria with a slideshow of photos from over the 100 years for the alumni guests to view.

“Personally, the 100th season means a lot to me,” said Head Coach Bryon Clouse. “I grew up in South Haven and was lucky enough to play basketball at PHS. As I get older, I appreciate the history of the school even more and especially the basketball program. I am extremely grateful that I get to be the head coach during the 100th season. Planning for this game has brought me closer to players from all era's of PHS basketball, and that has been awesome!” 

Tickets to this special game are free for all Portage students in grades K-five. Students not in these grades can purchase tickets at the game as long as they have their student issued ID’s with them. 

Staff spotlight:

Ann Marie Caballero is the principal of Fegely Middle School. She not only makes the environment a fun place to be, but she also looks out for all her students and staff, making sure no one is left without a voice. Her love for education is equally as important as her loving family too. 

Caballero began her career as a seventh and eighth grade social studies teacher at Gavit Middle School. After doing that for five years, she transitioned to teaching various history and geography-based classes to Gavit High School students for another five years. Her last eight years have been located in the Portage district, where she has been a building administrator, and for the last six years, Caballero has been the principal of Fegely. Caballero continues to be there for students in hopes that she makes them feel seen.

“I don’t remember ever seeing anyone that looked like me in school,” said Caballero. “I also don’t remember having a ‘person’ to go to while I was in school. I wanted to be that person for someone who possibly felt the same way as I did when I went to school. I wanted to be a role model or advocate for any student who needs it. Students can accomplish anything they set their minds to, but having a support system is crucial to that success.”

Caballero is also very present in her family life. Although all her children have left the nest, Caballero has the lovely company of her 175-pound Great Dane Zuko, who she loves dearly. She has been married to her husband Joe, for 27 years and has the great joy of calling Aliyah and Isaac her children with the addition of Jesse as a son-in-law. Her son Isaac is actually a U.S. Marine Veteran. 

“I was and still am very proud of our son,” Caballero said. “It was very hard when he first went in, and not being able to see him or talk to him whenever I wanted really made an impact on me. It forced me to see my baby as a man, as a Marine, as a hero. I am in awe of all the men and women who serve our country; they are real superheroes.” 

In her free time, Caballero loves to cook, lift weights, hang out with family, and shop for home decorations. Recently, she was Ursula for Halloween with her assistant principal as Ariel and the Dean of Students/athletic director as Sebastian. Though Caballero is always smiling and in good spirits, she loves all the Disney villains, especially Ursula.

“I just feel like so many villains are misunderstood,” she said. “I believe I resonate with them more because they are flawed, they have struggled, and their character story is usually very interesting.”

You can find Caballero in the halls of Fegely, most likely with an iced caramel macchiato in her hand.

Student spotlight:

With this being her final year, Senior Evelyn Garza is giving it her all as a heavily involved student athlete. From her challenging vocational class to her skills on the basketball court and softball field, Garza puts passion first. 

During her junior year, Garza enrolled in the Fire and Rescue vocational program offered through PHS. She wanted to be able to help people medically within a structural fire setting. After that experience from last year, Garza enrolled in the EMT vocational program, where she now gets the opportunity to go to different places and ride alongside EMTs/paramedics to learn and gain experience through real emergency situations. These experiences and vocational trainings have helped Garza form a path to what she hopes to do in the future.

“When I was younger, I didn’t quite know what I wanted to do as a career,” said Garza.“I knew I wanted to risk my life for others and hopefully go into the military. That's about all I knew at the time. It wasn’t until I got into sophomore year that I knew I had a love for the fire service.”

Aside from her dedication to service, Garza is a student athlete. She participates in both basketball and softball. Garza wouldn’t say she specifically chose basketball and softball to play as a sport, but those sports chose her. She is grateful that God gave her the ability to have the opportunity and the skills to play both sports. 

“My goal for both basketball and softball is to just give it my all and be there for my teammates. I want to lean towards having fun and enjoying every last second I have left as an athlete,” she said.

Garza is very family-oriented. She is the youngest sibling with one older brother and sister. She also has one step-brother and sister. Garza has much love for her dogs, Chico and Thor. Chico, a chihuahua, is who Garza claims to be her best friend who has been with her since she was a kid. Thor, a mutt, tends to be a hyperactive dog who loves playing fetch. 

Garza advises freshmen to have some fun with high school so they don’t take anything too seriously.

“Life is all about getting hit with the test before the homework,” said Garza. “High school is the time to make new friends, get out of your comfort zone, and to figure out who you are as a person. Cherish your high school years, because next thing you know, it will all be over.”