#1StudentNWI: Summer endings bring new beginnings for Portage High School

#1StudentNWI: Summer endings bring new beginnings for Portage High School

What’s recently happened?

The Pride of Portage Marching Band’s (PoP) upcoming season preparation is in full swing. Around 70 members have taken on the important role of continuing on the legacy that has been in motion for many, many years. From color guard to the front ensemble and everywhere in between, every member has a place. These dedicated performers begin the season before the school year even begins. The countless hours in the hot summer sun add strength, stamina, and tan lines to the band.

Low brass section embarrasses the Barbecue Dad Day themed practice

“During summer band camp, students are here seven hours a day, five days a week,” said Assistant Band Director Patrick Teykl. “We also do two full weeks of band camp prior to the first week of school.  Once school starts, we do regular after-school practices from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday plus Saturday mini-camps from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. This adds up to about 16 hours a week during most normal weeks, and then some weeks we put in more hours when we have Friday football games and/or Saturday competition performances!”

With the beginning of each season comes a new show the marching band puts on for competition purposes or for halftime entertainment during football games. The show, currently titled “Composition of Color,” is forming in the high school parking lot and is set to revolve around the development of color from black and white to a multispectrum brought in through props. 

Woodwind section rehearses “Composition of Color”

“Rather than a show that has a specific storyline or character development happening on the field, the main vibe and goal of the show is to entertain the audience with a very interesting variety of music in the different movements while using the drill, color guard, and props on field to create an exciting, unique visual display that captures their attention as frequently as possible,” said Tekyl.

PoP will continue to make adjustments to the show until the Indiana State School Music Association (ISSMA) competitions for marching bands. The goal is to get a Gold Rating at the ISSMA Scholastic Prelims competition in order to potentially qualify for ISSMA Scholastic Finals. Although competitions are meant to be seen as a competitive space, the members and directors are excited to take to the field with their show and even learn an extra thing or two about how other marching bands work together while also enjoying themselves.

Barbie watches over PoP during their Barbie Day at practice

“I think our students and us as directors can always gain a lot of knowledge from watching other groups perform,” said Teykl. “Whether it is a piece of music to include in a future show, part of a concept that really pops on the field, or even just the way a group acts and carries themselves from warm-up to performance and off the field - we’re always looking to improve and get better and observing the habits of other ensembles can often provide us the opportunity to keep moving in the right direction.”

Quick water break with the featured soloists in their finest Barbie outfits

Until competition season arrives though, the band members are already having a blast outside during their themed practices like Barbeque Dad Day, Tropical Day, and Barbie Day. The current mix of rookies and veterans have been said to be musically outstanding and very supportive of their section leaders and drum majors. All in all, the 2023 season of PoP is looking to be one full of great memories that no one in Portage should miss out on. You can catch PoP performances during halftime of the Portage High School (PHS) football home games.

What’s coming up?

The relaxing summer months of June and July are coming to a close, which means an incoming stressful August. The dreaded back-to-school month is upon us, and with supply lists seeming to grow longer and longer each year, it seems hard to not feel a rush of emotions as a teacher or student. 

Senior parking spots decorating brings excitement for the graduating seniors

“I’m excited and stressed,” said English Teacher Matt Supergan. “There are a lot of new changes this year, so it will be an adjustment. I'm excited to meet my new students and build relationships with them, but I am sad that summer’s over.”

For the Class of 2024, this school year will be their last in high school. That news is quite shocking and sad for some members of the class. Those who play sports only have this last season to set new personal records, win competitions, and letter. 

“I think I’m ready to get back into my routine of school, but I’m so sad that I’m starting to do some of my lasts of high school,” said Volleyball Player Lauren Zemen. 

Other PHS students also feel a rush of excitement to go back to school, whether to finish their final year or come back as an upperclassmen. Most are happily awaiting the simple routine of getting up at around 6 a.m. for a 7:30 a.m. class.

The Walsh family works together to paint Senior Hannah Walsh’s Hello Kitty spot perfect.

“It feels normal to go back, and it feels nice to get back into a consistent routine,” said Senior Cheerleader Jamia Adams. “To me, staying motivated and remembering to enjoy my high school days helps me get quickly back into the swing of things.” 

Check out what some other PHS students think about heading back into the classroom:

“I’m sad summer is over, but I always make good memories at school, so I’m excited to see what this school year brings me,” said Junior Cheerleader Jaycie Bogue.

“I’m pretty upset that summer is over, but I’m excited to see my friends again,” said Junior Matthew Clark.

Senior parking spot painting is almost finished

“I’m very nervous about starting school, especially with  being a senior and knowing it’s my last year,” said National Honor Society Member Mila Menchaca. 

“Honestly, I’m excited to go back! It’s my senior year, which is going to be so fun. I am nervous about college and where I'll end up, but overall I’d say I’m excited,” said Cheerleader Abbi Jablonski. 

“I’m sad summer is coming to an end, but one more year of school means one year closer to the rest of my life,” said Junior Band Member Kayla Pleasant.

“I am definitely ready to go back to school,” said Class of 2024’s Class President Sophia Torrres. “I’m super excited for my senior year! It will definitely be full of bittersweet moments.”

Class is in session for all Portage Township School students on August 16.

Community member spotlight:

The smiling face of Jeff King is no stranger to students at PHS and the community. His 24 years dedicated towards education have not gone unnoticed. Although it may be summertime for King, he has found opportunities to positively give back to the community. 

Jeff King is all smiles surrounded by his family!

“As a teenager,” said King. “I recognized my purpose in life was to help others, to help as many people as possible and add value to their lives. I stay active with the happenings at Portage Township Schools by leading professional development for interested teachers along with facilitating a virtual book study for interested teachers at PHS.”

Quality time with family is also very important to King. The King family summer vacation to Hilton Head involved much needed relaxation, great food, and memories that will last forever. Like the good husband he is, King even makes time for him and his wife to have a date night once a month. 

King’s involvement in the community always has the best of intentions. His love of baseball pushed him to coaching baseball for a travel team. Since King admits that being someone's cheerleader is something he loves to be, coaching baseball is the perfect way to do that while school is not in session. 

“This year, I coached a 12U travel team, and in our first year they went 10-10-1. Having limited practices and being our first time as a team, I am extremely proud of how far our players developed, how well they bonded with each other, and how well they competed on the field.”

King's secret to a motivated life? Joy! Putting joy and happiness into all that he does for the community is his fuel for continuing to give 100% effort at all times. This is evident in the community and in the hallways of PHS. 

“I choose joy,” said King. “I mean, what’s the alternative, right? I remind myself as often as possible to let the good things that happen in my day stick to me like velcro, and the negative things in a given day I make sure slide off like they would on a teflon material. In life, we all are going to have troubles. The wheel of misfortune does not discriminate. Knowing this, I know how important it is for people to have someone in their life that can be their encourager, supporter, and cheerleader. I love when I have the chance to encourage someone!”

Looking into the future, King has important goals set for himself, like writing and publishing a book, walking his daughter Eleanor down the aisle on her wedding day, and becoming an established and well-known motivational speaker, teacher, and coach. The time used in between accomplishing these goals though will include many McDonald’s Coca-Colas and meals made on the grill.