#1StudentNWI: Portage’s gratitude, graduation, and two greats

#1StudentNWI: Portage’s gratitude, graduation, and two greats

What’s recently happened?

It’s been a long school year for the teachers of Portage Township Schools and it’s finally time to give credit where credit is due. Teacher appreciation week happened during May 6 through May 10 this year, and the smiles on teacher’s faces can speak for themselves.

Portage High School’s (PHS) Student Council members wrote handwritten letters to all teachers, thanking them for all their hard work from grading papers to substituting for teachers. 

“Receiving a handwritten card or letter is such a novelty these days,” said Student Council co-Sponsor Sarah Cohen. “It is important to know that each and every teacher knows how important he/she is to the students of PHS. Every letter was personalized for that individual teacher.”

At Kyle Elementary School, teachers were even greeted by a food truck and given a ticket for a complimentary item. 

Though teacher appreciation week is only once a year, all students around the district of Portage are truly grateful for their many awesome teachers. 

What’s coming up?

On June 6, the PHS Class of 2024 will have its graduation commencement. This highly anticipated commencement ceremony will take place on the PHS football field at 7 p.m. Over 500 graduates will join together on the football field to receive their diploma and say goodbye to their time at PHS.

“It takes an entire community to support the growth and success of each student,” said Superintendent Dr. Amanda Alaniz.  “As a community, the City of Portage and the residents of Portage Township have guided, mentored, supported, and been the cheerleaders for the students who are celebrating this educational achievement as the graduating Class of 2024. When students succeed, the entire community succeeds!”

The Class of 2024 has been challenged over the years with its freshman year being affected by COVID-19. Though these challenges had the class separated in their homes during the beginning of the year, they will be joining together to exit their high school career. Alaniz wishes that all students remember who they are while they leave PHS and go out into the world.

“My wish for the graduates of 2024 is that they always remember where they came from,” said Alaniz. “This is a phrase we have heard throughout life, but it has a significant meaning when you truly stop and think. The trials and tribulations, the failure and success, the friendships and the heartbreaks, the good and the bad, the ups and the downs, the relationships, the laughter, and the cause – never forget the cause.”

The ceremony is open seating in the bleachers, and parents and family are welcome to bring as many supporters of their graduates as they’d like. 

Staff spotlight:

English department staple Marcia Hobart closes out on another year at PHS. Her bright outlook on life mixed in with her effective teaching style makes her a fan favorite among teachers and students alike. Hobart’s path to teaching may have been different to what she expected out of life, but it can be said that PHS is lucky to have her. 

Hobart started college as a zoology major with hopes of training dolphins. With her large love for animals came an equal amount of love for reading. Because of her family’s teacher influence, Hobart thought it interesting to possibly set aside the dolphin dream and pursue teaching.

“I’d have to say that, along with my love for animals, reading has been a big part of my life from a young age,” said Hobart. “Plus, I come from a long line of teachers in my family,  so when it became clear that I would likely miss the boat on dolphin training, it only seemed natural to me to pursue something else true to my heart, which was reading and the opportunity to share the value I find in books.”

Hobart shares the value of books in her Advanced Placement (AP) Language class, where she and her students read books like Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood” and J. D. Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye.” Hobart not only finds both these novels important to build critical thinking, but she sees herself in the character of Holden from “Catcher in the Rye” as well.

“I don’t relate to the mental illness he suffers from but mainly his perspective on society,” said Hobart. “While it is exceedingly cynical, it is also insightfully real and not without hope.”

Hobart closes out this year claiming it was a lot of hard work and dedication to reach her goals. She does however appreciate the support she gets from her husband who now also works at PHS. Hopefully, Hobart can relax this summer on a beach with a good book and her dogs by her side.

Student spotlight:

With the home stretch to graduation in sight, Ron Jackson is looking forward to a bright future consisting of college and enrolling in the Army. This caring senior has already made his mark on the City of Portage, so it is time for him to spread his wings and soar to new heights. 

This year, Jackson took on the role of being a student in the Jobs for America’s Graduates class (JAG). Jackson is very grateful for the experiences that this class brings for his preparation after high school. Recently in JAG class, Jackson and his other classmates have created their own clothing drive. The clothes that are donated will be given to a local women and children's shelter, Gabriel's Horn.

“My time in JAG was nothing short of inspirational and getting comfortable with my first steps after high school,” said Jackson. “The clothing drive is very important to me because we're helping children and women gain spirit and slowly build themselves up and get them back to independence.”

Jackson is no stranger to feeling the pressure of school stress. He makes it a priority to soar above the urge to slack off and not do assignments. Jackson’s mentality to schoolwork at the end of the year is that life is like a race, and one should not slow down to cross the finish line but race through it with confidence. Jackson is eager to cross that finish line and receive his diploma on June 6. 

“My finish line is graduating high school and seeing that ear-to-ear smile on my family's faces knowing that I did it and didn't give up,” said Jackson. “My suggestion is to not fight the struggle but to understand what you're going through and that the storm will pass.”

Looking back on his four year journey at PHS, Jackson is appreciative of his squad of family and friend cheerleaders who have supported him throughout it all. He would also like to thank his teachers from the foreign language department with Andrea Pappas to his math teacher Nick Hass – he appreciates them for making class a comfortable place. Jackson would finally like to make a special shoutout to his current English teachers Anna Dimov and Kim Dailey for bringing out the best in him no matter what.