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A 2013 IHSPA Hoosier Star Finalist

Pow Wow

Portage High School

6450 U.S. Hwy 6 Portage, Ind. 46368

‘Not a Thing’

Random drug search results in zero arrests, no evidence of drug presence Portage Township Editor-in-Chief Schools Superintendent Ric Frataccia received news that instantly brought a smile to his face. On April 11, seven years after having 125 drugrelated arrests at Portage High School, eight drug-sniffing canines roamed the halls of PHS during a random drug search and came up empty, as no drugs were found. “Not a thing,” Frataccia said with a grin. “How do you think that makes me feel? A random drug sniffer comes through my whole school and finds nothing. Where is that talked about? My kids are now healthier than they’ve ever been. I’m really happy about that and if I’m the only one that is happy about that, I really don’t care. My job is to take care of the kids and get them to be

Brandon Vickrey

smart.” Portage Police Chief Troy Williams said the results of the search are two-fold. According to Williams, only certain floors of the school were searched and the dogs entered just six random classrooms, all of which were clean. “That’s good on one hand, but I don’t want people to get a false sense of security that just because you didn’t find anything one day, doesn’t mean you should let your guard down,” Williams said. “It’s an ongoing process that we just need to keep on top of.” The Portage Police Department is in the process of training three of its own canines. Neighboring jurisdictions provided the dogs for last month’s search. Williams said that once the canines are trained, they will periodically stop by the school to search the parking lot, lockers

Issue 14

125 Arrests In ‘05-’06

After ending Duneland Athletic Conference play with a record of 10-4, Content Editor the varsity softball team is looking forward to a matchup with conference foe LaPorte in the first round of sectionals. The only conference opponent Portage was not able to conquer during the regular season was Lake Central, which is not in the same sectional as Portage. However, the Lady Indians racked up wins against two of the top teams in the conference and in the state in Chesterton and Crown Point. These came after Portage dropped the first contest with each team earlier in the season. “Getting the wins against Chesterton and Crown Point were great for us,” head coach Lisa Hayes said. “It really gave the girls the confidence we’ve been searching for. These wins should help us in sectionals because we know we can beat anyone we will face.” At the time this issue went to print, the team had an overall record of 17-6 heading into the last week of regular season play. As sectional time starts to roll around, the team is looking forward to the first round. “The team has really done well, but going into sectionals we

“That’s good on one hand, but I don’t want people to get a false sense of security.”-Troy Williams

25 Arrests in ‘12-’13

No Drug Presence in Search

and an occasional classroom. When asked if there are any improvements he would make on the process followed in last month’s search, Frataccia indicated that he thought the search was as thorough as possible. “It’s my understanding that it was about

Softball completes regular season, beats Chesterton and Crown Point Eric Mesarch

May 17, 2013

need to pick it up a little and play even better,” senior Haley Hodges said. “LaPorte was a great draw. We’ve beat them twice already, but they always make it a good game. It will prepare us for tougher games against tougher opponents.”

See SOFTBALL, page 4

Rachel Ortiz-Zabloudil bats in a game against Munster. Portage won 11-1 in six innings. The softball team starts sectional play against the LaPorte Slicers Monday in Crown Point at 5:30 p.m. Photo by Emily Hensley

as random as it could have been,” he said. “The principal didn’t know they were coming. The kids didn’t know they were coming. They came and found nothing. That’s about as random as rolling snake eyes.” Williams said that any school Portage’s size is going to have a few drug issues, “whether it’s Portage, Valpo, some school in Florida or one in California.”


PHS students take over city government for day Nick Blue

News Writer

When ten seniors took to their elected positions for Youth Government Day on May 7, each had a different reason for wanting to shadow a city official. From desires to go into politics to intrigue regarding the financial world, students were able to shadow city politicians in order to gain a better understanding of how the city of Portage works. The election was held April 26, with Mackenzie Barcelli winning position of Mayor, Ryan Wilson as ClerkTreasurer, Greg Birkmeyer, Collin Czilli, Leann Hedger, Samuel Hensley, Austin Lee,

Will Rospierski and Jimmy Spence as Council Members and Morgan Eastridge as Fire Chief. “I think kids are more in tune to the national government and congress and the President, but this lets them see how they can make a difference at the local level,” head of the Social Studies Department Mark Marvin said. During the school day on May 7, the winners went to City Hall and “shadowed” the official whose position they won in the election, and then attended the Council meeting in the evening.


Anchor changes coming to INN Marquez and Jones to take over anchor desk

As the end of the school year draws near, the time has come for seniors Features Writer Brandon Vickrey and Eric Mesarch to pass on the torch to the new Indians News Network anchors. On May 1, Vickrey and Mesarch announced that sophomore Kiley Jones will replace Vickrey as the sports anchor and sophomore Jessica Marquez will replace Mesarch as the news anchor. Upon hearing the news of her new position, Jones was overcome with joy. “It felt really great,” Jones said. “I was honestly not surprised, seeing as I was the only person who auditioned for Brandon’s chair on INN, but that did not take away any of the anxiety and excitedness when I was announced as the new sports anchor.” Marquez felt a similar moment of happiness. Marquez said that she is joyful but nervous about delivering

Joshua Lewis

quez Mar

the announcements with Jones on INN in the upcoming school year. To obtain the coveted seats on INN, Jones and Marquez had to go through an audition process. Jones said that Vickrey questioned her about a month ago if she had any interest in filling his position as the sports anchor, and upon further thought, the thought of being an anchor excited her and drove her to participate in the auditions in the INN studio. Both sophomores had different inspirations that guided them to their new positions. “The first time I saw an episode of INN my freshman year I just thought it was so cool that our school had something like that,” Marquez said. “I was in [publications adviser Melissa Deavers-Lowie’s] journalism class that year and everything she taught me guided me into discovering my passion for journalism. Then this year, [Deavers-Lowie] asked me if I’d like to audition and I said yes, but I didn’t think I’d get it.” Jones, on the other hand, was inspired more by her passion for sports. According to Jones, her extreme passion for sports, particularly Portage sports, drove her to become the sports anchor.

See INN ANCHORS, page 7

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News 2 Incoming leaders NHS officer-elects excited to take over next year

Issue 14

V i c e

P r e s i d e n t

P r e s i d e n t

Gabby Ziulkowski

John Fannin Katie Peksenak News Editor It is that time of year again as National Honor Society elections have come to a close. Newer members have been selected to step up and take the honor of a leadership position as an NHS officer. For the 2013-2014 school year, John Fannin is president, Gabby Zuilkowski is vice president, Mackenzie Jones is secretary, Amanda Pogue is treasurer, Mandy Haupt is historian and Michael Sutkowski is parliamentarian. All officers are current juniors who will be seniors next school year. According to Fannin, winning the position of NHS President was not only a

thrill to him, but an honor that he feels he will be able to carry out with success. “It was really exciting winning the election. The strengths I bring to NHS would be my trustworthy, outspoken and outgoing personality,” Fannin said. NHS adviser Cathy Nye holds all officers at a higher standard, but views the position of president as one with immense responsibility, as he is the one who runs the meetings. “The president is kind of like second command in the sense that I’m going to come to them when something isn’t happening or working out. They are the ultimate go-between amongst the other members and me,” Nye said.

Drug searches Continued from page 1

“Some other schools might turn a blind eye, saying they don’t have a problem,” he said. “One kid doing drugs is a problem. Is Portage worse off than any other school, I wouldn’t say that. We want to stay on top so that it doesn’t get out of control.” The District’s future plans for staying on top of drug usage may involve random drug testing, a system that home school adviser Tim Kunstek suggested to Frataccia. Frataccia said that the testing would be used to allow the District to identify students that need help, rather than to punish first-time offenders. “The purpose is to give kids a tool, just like the purpose of drug screening or a random test, is not to punish the kid,” he said. “Kids make mistakes, some more dramatic than

others. That’s the American way, you get to fix yourself. If you choose not to fix yourself, you’ve chosen out.” Frataccia believes that the random drug testing will give students a “legitimate” way to turn down their peers when they are offered drugs. The testing would allow students to tell their peers that they will not use drugs out of fear of getting caught. “I don’t know if we’ll have a policy, I really don’t, but I have to tell you, I was incredibly pleased with the zero catch,” Frataccia said. “The very first meeting I went to, I had Portage people come up to me saying how proud they were that it was a zero at the high school. I think that’s terrific that people would pay attention to that.”

Several seniors to be recognized at upcoming awards night Mallory Lopez News Writer Springtime is finally here, and although butterflies will begin to be seen outside, they will also be in the stomachs of several seniors as they anxiously await their annual awards night coming up on May 22. According to guidance counselor Shirley Bustos, seniors who are going to be recognized either for their academic excellence or scholarship are sent an invitation to attend. Their family members also receive invitations. Most scholarship recipients are kept a secret until the evening of the award ceremony. There are students that will receive more than one scholarship. Two junior members of National Honor Society will introduce the community members who will be awarding the scholarships. In some cases, the scholarship donor chooses the recipient. In other cases, Portage

S e c r e t a r y

High School can make the decisions as to who receives a scholarship, according to Bustos. “Students are chosen based on their applications. It is not the luck of the draw,” Bustos said. Last year, 30 students were recognized for the Board of Education awards. There were 53 students that were recognized as Academic Hall of Fame recipients. Overall, there were be 95 scholarships announced, including awards from universities that students had the knowledge of. There should be the same number of students again this year for Senior Awards Night. This is Bustos’s fourth year of being the scholarship coordinator. According to Bustos, Senior Awards night is a wonderful time to showcase amazing students for their academic accomplishments, as well as their extracurricular activities and community service. “It’s fun to see the surprised look on their faces when their name is called to receive a scholarship,” Bustos said.

Mackenzie Jones As vice president, Ziulkowski will account for member point totals. “I’m a very determined and organized person. I work well with others but I’m not afraid to take things on by myself either and I think those are important qualities in leading any group,” Ziulkowski said. As historian, Haupt will take care of the NHS scrapbook and display case. “I am a really hard worker and will be able to get things done when they need to be. I love all the people in NHS and am hoping to bring everyone closer through friendliness and making everyone feel that they are a part of the NHS family,” Haupt said. Jones’s job as secretary will entail

T r e a s u r e r Amanda Pogue handling minutes and attendance amongst the NHS members. “The strengths I will bring as an NHS officer are being organized and efficient. I’m going to try to voice my opinion and bring change to the organization so we can have a great year,” Jones said. Helping out the community is an aspect of NHS officers seem to enjoy the most. “My favorite aspect of NHS is the prestige of it all. To just be able to be part of an organization at this level that does so much within the school and community really is an honor and being chosen as vice president to represent an organization like this is an amazing privilege,” Ziulkowski said.

New evaluation system will affect administrator raises Collin Czilli Opinion Editor Administrators in Portage Township Schools are in for a change in terms of raises starting next school year after a change in state law has made all raises based on yearly evaluations. Since 1996, PTS has been practicing a policy that awarded new and promoted administrators a raise in order to balance their pay with those of their administrative colleagues. According to PTS Superintendent Ric Frataccia, past practice awarded administrators a raise based on their contractual pay. “Past practice starting in 1996, and every year after, was for persons in new administrative positions and new administrators,” Frataccia said. “The practice had been to award that person up to $2,000 a year for three years. I made it one [thousand] a year.” The legality of those raises was called into question at the Portage School Board meeting on April 29. When former Governor Mitch Daniels signed Senate Enrolled Act 1 and made it law, merit pay became part of evaluations for school officials. Current law states that teachers and administrators cannot receive a raise unless they are deemed “effective” or “highly effective” through an evaluation process. “It was natural for me to say we are getting closer to July when we deal with the budget and I said here are the new people,” Frataccia said. “The Board’s concern was how it was congruent or incongruent with current law.” The Portage School Board delayed action on the raises until all of the administrator evaluations, including the Superintendent’s, are completed. Frataccia said once the

administrators have been fully evaluated, he will once again bring the raises in front of the board. The problem with the evaluations has proven to be creating a rubric not only for the Principals and Superintendents, but for the other administrators including department heads in food service, custodial, maintenance, athletics and other areas of the schools, positions which also must be evaluated “effective” in order to receive any raise in pay. Currently, the schools are working on creating a rubric to evaluate those positions as well, which are affected by the past practice changes. “The Portage administrators are evaluated on a modified R.I.S.E. rubric, and that is from the state, but we are going to modify that,” Frataccia said. “I am evaluated from the Superintendent’s rubric from the Indiana State School Board Association. I evaluate my assistants as well. There is an instrument in place.” Frataccia believes that the administrators that are affected by this change will understand why the Board took the action they did. “I think they get it,” Frataccia said. “The state law is logical, it really is. In the past, if there was a contractual agreement, this person is being written up and saying that they need to get better, but yet they got a raise. The new law takes that [contractual agreements] out of the equation.” According to Frataccia, if an administrator is currently in the second or third year of what was past practice, the raise is still based on the evaluation of said administrator regardless of contractual agreements. He hopes to have the evaluations done in time for the next School Board meeting to take action on these raises that will go into effect at the beginning of next school year.

May 17, 2013

Saying Goodbye to Portage HS

ROTC instructor Major John Johnston to retire at end of year Ashley Conrad

News Writer

Not only will there be goodbyes being said to the seniors, but to a staff member as well. Senior Marine Instructor Major John Johnston will be retiring at the end of this school year. Johnston served on active duty in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1970-1996. He served many tours of duty both at stateside and overseas locations. “The transition from being in the Marines to coming to a high school was difficult. I went from working with adults in real world situations to working with kids coming right out of middle school,” Johnston said. Johnston retired in 1996 and assumed his current position as Senior Marine Instructor of Portage High School Marine Corps Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps. “What I have learned at PHS with students is to never judge a book by its cover,” Johnston said. “Some kids in the school may not look like doers but they end up being

tremendous workers.” Johnston’s quotes that he tells ROTC members are “you have not arrived yet” and “do not judge a book by its cover.” Cadet Sergeant Major Robert Manning picked Johnston as his ACES teacher. “I chose Major for ACES because he pushed me to continue keeping my GPA up and to try and get into the Military academy,” Manning said. Johnston does not yet know exactly yet what he wants to do after retirement. One of his ideas is to form his own company to teach leadership and industry seminars. “What will be missed most about him is his ability to push people to getting stuff done,” Manning said. Who will replace Johnston is still unknown, according to Johnston. “I want to leave while the program is still on top,” Johnston said. ROTC has been awarded best MCROTC program in Region 3 twice in the past five years. “Portage is a great school and students do not realize what a great school this is

ROTC Instructor Major John Johnston works with a student in one of the MCJROTC classes. The school board announced Johnston’s retirement at its April 29 meeting. Photo by Ashley Conrad compared to others in the region. We have not even begun to touch the service with what we can do here,” Johnston said. Johnston has been awarded multiple science degrees, including Bachelor of Science degree in Business Economics and a Master of Science degree in Strategic Intelligence.

In addition to the degrees, Johnston has been awarded personal decorations such as the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Navy Commendation Medal, the Joint Service Achievement Medal and the Navy Achievement Medal.

Seniors Give Back Class of 2013 to replace carpet in Commons Mary Clancy

News Writer

The Indian head between doors B and C was a gift from the class of 1990. The Class of 2013’s senior gift is to replace the carpet in the Commons with tile. Photo by Olivia Forrester

Next year, students may notice a change in the Commons, as this year’s senior gift is to replace the carpet with tile. A senior gift is a way for seniors to give something back to the school. They raise and donate money to purchase something for the school. Previous senior gifts include the Indian Head at the front of the school and trees planted by seniors. Senior gift ideas come from the senior class officers. According to senior class President Collin Czilli, he proposed the idea of replacing the carpet with tile. When he shared the idea, the rest of the senior class officers agreed. “It was a really good idea. The carpet is gross and out of date. The school needs tile there,” senior class Vice President Lauryn Sanders said. According to Czilli, tiling was chosen because it would be more attractive to the eye and there are more design options with the tile as compared to carpeting. After

talking with Principal Caren Swickard and Maintenance Supervisor Don Dean, the group decided tiling would be more efficient to the school in terms of cost and maintenance of the flooring. “We wanted to do something for the school that would be lasting,” Czilli said. “Some of the other gifts that we had proposed were not something that would always be here, for example repainting the parking lot. As a class we wanted something that students could appreciate for years to come.” Although the design of the tile is not set in stone, it will feature red, white and black coloring. Also, the letters PHS will be centered on the floor as well as the year 2013 set into the tile. The money donated by the seniors came from left over money from last year’s Prom. The total cost of the tile was $6,700. The senior class covered about half of that, donating $3,000. The rest of the costs were covered by the school. PTS Superintendent Ric Frataciia agreed to cover the additional cost of the flooring out of school funds.

News 3

Youth government Continued from page 1

Before May 7, students were unsure of what to expect during the meeting. “I want to be a lawyer, but I also want to be in politics. By ‘shadowing’ at the meeting, I hope to see what really happens in politics,” student mayor, senior Mackenzie Barcelli said. Clerk-Treasurer Ryan “We all complain Wilson is currently taking about so many things, accounting at the school and wanted to get deeper insight adults and kids alike, into how the city works with and this is a great money. “I wanted to get life opportunity to help experience with checkbooks them learn how to and accounting in general,” make local government Wilson said. After the meeting on work for them”- Mark May 7, many students felt Marvin, Social they had gained a better Studies Department understanding of how local politics work. Chair “It gave me a greater view on what actually does go on in the city of Portage, and how each Council member does get input from their district in the city and many people do complain about things like pot holes and broken street lights,” Wilson said. The meeting made many participants realize that they wanted to go into politics as a career. “Now that I’ve had the experience I would definitely run for clerk-treasurer in real life after college,” Wilson said. The experience was definitely an eye opener into local politics for the students, according to Marvin. “We all complain about so many things, adults and kids alike, and this is a great opportunity to help them learn how to make local government work for them,” Marvin said.



New technology class allows students to graduate as specialists In addition to programming and Features Writer desktop publishing, comes a new class that allows students to become a certified Microsoft Office Specialist. Communication and Technology will be a yearlong class that will prepare students for certifications in some of Microsoft’s latest editions of software including Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Outlook and Access. After a year’s worth of training, students will take an extensive competency test covering some of the most crucial skills taught. All tests will be taken with a specific Microsoft Office program at a testing site in Portage called Current Technologies, according to Business Department chair Marjorie Slamkowski. Students who have completed the course successfully become members of Microsoft Certified Professional community. This gives access to all of the benefits provided through the Microsoft Certification Program, with additional online benefits. Slamkowski along with business teacher Dave Mikesell will be teaching collaboratively as a part of the course. “I’m so excited for the class next year. This will help anyone that wants a serious living in computers or an office corporation environment,” Mikesell said. “Any job will expect you to know the basics of Word, and that’s what this class has to offer.” But with opportunities comes effort, according to Slamkowski. “This class will be taught at a college level and should be taken seriously,” Slamkowski said. “Students are going to have to come every day prepared to learn thoroughly.” Exams and certifications earned become part of an official high school transcript, allowing students the opportunity for more advantages and offerings post-graduation. According to Slamkowski, the number of job postings in the cloud computing industry is growing quickly and there are not enough qualified people available to fill the positions needed.

Angela Dornbos

Sports 4

Issue 14

‘It’s been a long time’

Baseball team drops nine of 12, shuffles starting lineup Opposing teams have reached double digit run totals five different times this season, all Portage losses. “Pitchers have got to work ahead in counts,” Pirowski said. “We have to throw strike one. The DAC and our sectional are too good to be going 2-1 and 3-1 all game. They’re going to make you pay.” After a 10-4 loss to Merrillville on May 7, Pirowski shuffled his lineup for the May 8 non-conference tilt with Hobart. Freshman Hunter Thorn was called up to the varsity squad, becoming the first ninth grader since Mike Bruner in 2008 to see the varsity diamond. Thorn was the starting catcher and had two hits. “[Tyler Soberg] needed a break, first of all, since he’d caught two games in a row,” Pirowski said. “We wanted to see what Thorn’s got before sectionals.” Pirowski said the

Brandon Vickrey


Entering the Portage varsity baseball game on April 24 against Valparaiso, the Indians were riding high with a record of 10-2. The team won the Chattanooga Tournament Championship, strung together six straight victories, was ranked fifth in the state of Indiana and seemed poised for another 20-plus win season. However, a 13-2 defeat to Valparaiso began a tailspin that saw the Indians drop six straight and nine of 12. The Indians averaged 2.33 runs per game in those nine losses. “At the plate, we’ve got to do a better job of getting our pitch to hit and doing something with it, not fouling it off, not swinging and missing,” head coach Tim Pirowski said. “We’ve got to be smart on the bases.”

everyday catcher for the remainder of the season is still to be determined, but he said Thorn earned another start. “He was aggressive at the plate,” Pirowski said. “The moment wasn’t too big for him, and I thought he did a nice job catching, too. He was blocking balls well, handling the pitchers and calling timeout on his own without us saying anything.” The new-look lineup featured Kevin Jones leading off, CJ Haupt hitting second and Chris Klenk batting fifth. “We moved Chris to fifth because we need some production in the middle of the order,” Pirowski said. “We put Jones in the leadoff spot, because he’s been getting on base all year.” The Indians pitched seniors CJ Haupt and Anthony Samano, who have sparingly seen the mound during their high school

careers, in the 10-5 loss to the Brickies. Pitching depth has plagued Portage, causing Pirowski to utilize his creativity when making out the pitching rotation. “For the most part, I thought they did well,” he said. “They threw strikes. CJ had that one bad inning where he walked a couple and gave up some hits, but they did what they were supposed to do. They threw strikes.” Pirowski said that “it’s been a long time” since he has coached a team that has had a season like this. “It’s one of those years, it seems like our pitchers aren’t getting ahead in counts and it’s hurting us,” he said. Portage closes out the regular season tonight against Hanover Central at 6 p.m. at the Portage Little League Complex before competing in the Twin Lakes Invite tomorrow in preparation for next week’s sectional in LaPorte.

Top: Peter Psomadelis takes a pitch during a game against Valparaiso at PHS on April 13. The game was eventually rained out and restarted on April 24. Bottom Left: Tyler Soberg warms up for the game against the Vikings. Bottom Right: John Velez fields a ground ball on the infield. Photos by Haley Crnarich

Righting the ship

Track and field teams work on respective weaknesses

Three boys track and field athletes practice on the hurdles event on a cloudy spring day at PHS. Photo by Olivia Forrester The boys Sports Writer and girls track and field team may compete in the same events, but the levels of experience and the state of each team differs. According to boys track and field coach John Kappes, due to the newest athlete’s inexperience, not much is expected in the current season, but the postseason and future years are believed to be promising. However, the girls track and field team has many returning athletes with years of experience. “The season can be improved greatly by winning the Sectional Championship. As a coaching staff, all we ask is that the ladies give their best efforts and compete to their fullest potential. The team has continued to do this weekly so we are very pleased with their efforts,” Coleman said. Although he believes the team has multiple strengths, Coleman said that the shot put and discus group has been the team’s most consistent group all year. There were several meets, such as the LaPorte and Michigan City meet,

Brandon Weis

where they swept the competition and gave the team points for the dual meets. In the LaPorte and Michigan City meet, all Portage athletes placed. Also, in the Duneland Conference, juniors Ashley Sosbe and Tara Kostelnik placed in the shot put even though the team finished fourth. The weakness of his team, according to Coleman, is the lack of depth for the mid distance races, in particular the 400 meter dash. Currently, three girls can run the 400 meter dash, but due to injuries and other team needs, only one of the three girls end up competing in the event. The girls track and field team finished fourth overall in the final conference standings. This boys track and field season, according to Kappes, is more an opportunity for the athletes on his team to gain needed experiences and improve in the years to come. “Like the other spring sports team, we have been dogged by the unusually poor weather, challenging the athletes mentally and physically,” Kappes said. “The team has also experienced more than its share of

injuries and illness, too. So, we have yet to hit on all cylinders and see what the team is really capable of doing.” On the upside, according to Kappes, this has provided other athletes on the team the opportunity to step up, gain valuable experience and succeed. “This year is the foundation for a championship run in the near future,” Kappes said. The boys track and field team came in fifth place overall in the final conference standings, with a sixth place finish in the DAC Meet. Kappes said that the team’s strength lies in its potential. “The team is young and needs unifying leadership from within the ranks. This has affected the consistency of our overall team performances. This year’s weakness will be ultimately turned into our strengths over the next few years, yielding veteran and talented upperclassmen,” Kappes said. The Indiana High School Athletic Association State Finals for the girls and boys track team will be held on Saturday, June 1 at Indiana University in Bloomington.


Continued from page 1 Senior Lauren Murray said one of the things the team has to do to prepare for the postseason is keep its confidence high and overcome mental lapses during games. “We just need to know that we can win and we can beat the good teams as we have this season already,” Murray said. “We are our worst enemies and if we can get past mental errors, we can go all the way.” Although the Lady Indians look to easily get past LaPorte, another goal of the team is to not overlook their opening round opponent. “This has been a great season for everyone and this team is one of the best ones yet,” senior Jena Alaniz said. “We just need to keep our confidence up, but not too high where we get ahead of ourselves and take advantage of the other teams. We have the potential to go far and I believe we will do it.” Senior Heather Zengler has hopes that she and her fellow seniors on the team can end their final season of softball on a high note by making a strong postseason run. “As my high school season comes to an end, I am sad, but hope all of us seniors can go out with a bang,” Zengler said. “As a team, we just need to play our game. If we play the way we know how we will go far in the postseason and I have all the confidence in the world in us.”

Softball Sectional at Crown Point Monday, May 20 Portage vs. LaPorte Chesterton vs. Crown Point Tuesday, May 21 Hobart vs. Michigan City Merrillville vs. Valparaiso May 23- semifinals May 24- championship


May 17, 2013

A helping hand Spears holds fundraiser for family-friend with help from Wizards

LEFT: A Wizards player screams and hangs on the basketball hoop. The Harlem Wizards played against Portage students and faculty.

Peyton Hulse

The Harlem Wizards brought more than just smiling faces to the town of Portage. The team came to Portage High School to help sophomore Michael Spears raise money for a family-friend, Stacey Kennon, who has been battling cancer. According to Spears, the amount of money raised for the fundraiser is currently unknown. For weeks, Spears promoted the Harlem Wizards game through Facebook, announcements, word of mouth, flyers, local newspapers and even reached out to the elementary and middle schools. Spears said he was expecting to fill the entire gymnasium. Study hall teacher Elise Jones helped Spears organize and contact the necessary people for the fundraiser and acted as the teacher sponsor for the event. “It always feels awesome [to help someone]. You’re saving a life,” Jones said. Jones said when Spears asked her to help she was in the project 100 percent and she would do anything she possibly could to make this event successful. In order to have the Harlem Wizards return to the school for a second time this year, Jones had to present the idea to the school board, which made a final decision to have the game. Jones and Spears said that overall, they felt like the fundraiser was a success. “I am happy with the results of the fundraiser because it’s for a good cause and any penny or dollar counts,” Spears said. Jones and Spears were faced with limitations on the ability to promote the fundraiser within the school because it was for an outside source. Spears said the amount of challenges he faced while planning this event was “unbelievable,” but at the same time, it felt great to help out his mother’s friend. “I could have not done it without the support of the Harlem Wizards,” Spears said.

Sports Editor

BOTTOM LEFT: A Wizards player emerges from smoke. The Harlem Wizards returned for the second time this school year. BOTTOM RIGHT: Student-athletes walk through the gymnasium doors to play the Harlem Wizards. The game was played on May 6. Photos by Emily Hensley

The Complete Package

MVP Kiley Jones stays consistent throughout the season Alexis coffman

Sports Writer

Being on varsity softball since freshman year, sophomore Kiley Jones has made the sport her “way

of life.” “I started pitching when I was 11. Softball is very important to me. It has influenced my life in a lot of ways. It has taught me to be competitive in a healthy way,” Jones said. “I have learned to play with the mentality that ‘Every move counts. Every pitch, every throw and every swing. All of it matters.’ Softball has also taught me how to handle many different kinds of situations.” Head coach Lisa Hayes feels Jones has proven her devotion in softball. “Her hard work at practice comes through in games. She shuts down teams and helps our offense keep pushing through,” Hayes said. The sport has affected Jones in other aspects of life. Jones’s motivation to play has come from family ties. According to Jones, three of her family members were, “instrumental,” in her growth as a player. “My dad coached me when I was young, and even when he stopped coaching my team, I was blessed, and still am, to have him as my personal coach,” Jones said. “He has sat in the back yard on a bucket acting as my catcher since day one. I could never imagine my softball life without him.” According to Jones, her aunt was successful in softball in high school. Jones’s aunt, Kassey Reynolds, was a pitcher for Portage in the 90s. She broke several school records. “Reynolds went on to be a Hall of Famer at Indiana University as a pitcher. She has taught me much of what I know.

Ever since I have been young she has been there for me as my instructor. I would be nowhere without all of the incredible time and effort she has put into me,” Jones said. According to Jones, her grandfather has helped her build up to who she is today. “My old coach, Coach Phil Quinn, has just been my rock,” Jones said. “He was the coach of my travel ball team for a summer. He was not simply a coach to me, he was also my grandfather. He taught me more than the game of softball; he taught me how to be the best person I can be.” According to Hayes, Jones has shown that positivity works in the game, no matter what the outcome of the game. “Jones has the complete package as a softball player. She is a great pitcher, hitter and fielder. She also has a great work-ethic,” Hayes said. “Also, Jones has a great attitude on and off the field. She is friendly and works hard. The girls and the coaches are happy she is a part of our team.” According to Jones, bad attitude is not an option, on or off the field. It would affect the way she plays, so she will always stick to being positive. “In the game, you cannot have a bad attitude. Not only will you probably get pulled from the game, but having a bad attitude affects the way you play. I have learned to always be positive, even if the outcome of the game is not how my team wanted it to be,” Jones said. There is one goal that Jones wants to achieve by senior year, if not earlier. “Being a sophomore, my overall goal every year is simply to get better. But one of my pitching goals is to hit 67 mph on my fastball before I graduate,” Jones said.

“I have learned to always be positive, even if the outcome of the game is not how my team wanted it to be.” -Kiley Jones, sophomore

Sophomore Kiley Jones pitches in game against Munster. The Lady Indians won 11-1. Photo by Emily Hensley

Opinion 6 Editor-in-Chief Brandon Vickrey Content Editor Eric Mesarch Design Editor Emily Evans Opinion Editor Collin Czilli News Editor Katie Peksenak Features Editor Joshua Lewis Sports Editor Peyton Hulse Photo Editor Olivia Forrester Sports Writers Alexis Coffman Lauren Winicky Brandon Weis News Writers Ashley Conrad Mallory Lopez Nick Blue Mary Clancy Features Writers Tyra Allen Amber Nelson Angela Dornbos Caleb Ingersoll Alexis Sosa Photographers Taylor Mlynski Emily Hensley Adviser Melissa Deavers-Lowie Pow Wow Editorial Policy The Pow Wow is a student-produced newspaper. As an open-forum publication, we do accept letters-to-the-editor. All letters must be grammatically correct, free from errors and 200 words or fewer. Letters must include your name. E-mail submissions can be sent to Letters will be run in the next available issue of the newspaper.

Issue 14

‘Too chunky to cheer’

Blogger takes comments on cheerleader’s weight too far Emily Evans Design Editor

Twitter: @emiiilyanee Freedom of speech is a right that covers most anything a person wishes to express, so, in modern society, when a blog post must be taken down because it is inappropriate, the situation is serious. On April 24, a blog post written by Houston resident and sports blogger Claire Crawford was taken down from a popular sports website affiliated with CBS. The reason: Crawford asked readers if Oklahoma City Thunder cheerleader Kelsey Williams was “too chunky to cheer.” Are we in the seventh grade and still calling each other names? Let us back up for just a moment and examine what has just happened. Crawford has just called a perfectly normal and healthy cheerleader “pudgy” (her words, not mine) and even had the audacity to attach a reader-operated poll about Williams’ weight, with selectable responses including “Has the perfect look,” “Needs some tightening up in the midsection” and

“She has no business wearing that outfit in front of people.” I honestly have to wonder what was going through Crawford’s mind when she wrote this blog post. Number one, Williams is physically fit enough to be a professional cheerleader; something that obviously requires intense athletic abilities. Number two, how dare anyone make comments about someone else’s weight, especially on a public forum? Miss Crawford, please, when you become the model of perfection, give me a call and we can talk. Until then, the rude comments need to end. The world has enough issues with selfesteem, and this is not helping. Professional cheerleaders, celebrities, the rest of society, I can imagine that everyone has received a hurtful comment about appearance in his or her life, and instances like this only make this fact more clear. The only answer I have to this entire situation is that Claire Crawford is a sad, pathetic woman who feels the need to put others down to make herself feel better. If

Kelsey Williams is fat, then I am morbidly obese. It is definitely not the time to start calling each other out when nobody looks like a Barbie doll. Comments like this from the media, or from anyone, can lead women and society in general to believe that they are not good enough or do not have the right physical appearance. The truth is that it does not matter what a person looks like, actions are what is important. Kelsey Williams has managed to keep her head up, despite the mud that was thrown at her. We can all take a page from her handbook on this one. To everyone who has been made fun of or harassed, whether it is verbally or textually, ignore it. Sometimes, it may seem impossible, but I like to say: “If someone is trying to bring you down, it only means that you are already above them.” I guess the only thing I have left to say has been said a million times, but seriously, think before speaking, or Facebooking, Tweeting and, of course, blogging. You have no business commenting on someone else’s weight, or appearance for that matter, in a negative manner and the only thing you gain when you do so is a big, ugly mark on your own reputation.

Getting down to business

New governor Mike Pence turning Indiana into a business-friendly state with tax cuts Collin Czilli Opinion Editor

Twitter: @CollinCZ It is no secret that I am a democratic leaning person, and I believe that has been proven in my previous articles, but Republican Governor Mike Pence has continued to put this state on the map. Indiana is one of the most businessfriendly states in the country, and I think that is shown by our lower unemployment rate and increase is businesses moving to this state, all because this state has become business friendly. Tax cuts are not bad policies and when our state has a $2 billion surplus, taxes need to be cut and funding needs to be raised. If the government is taking in more money than it should, give the money back by cutting taxes and raising spending on services that help the public, like education and health care. Remember, this is coming from a Democrat whose party is typically against any type of tax cut, but Indiana has found

a formula that works to been bad. The tax cut that Governor Pence better our state. The more signed last week will affect every tax paying business-friendly our state is, Hoosier. The cutting of the business tax rate the better off it will be. More will go a long way in bringing more business business means more work for to Indiana which means more jobs to be filled the people by Hoosier workers. of Indiana. Tax cuts pump money “The cutting of the business As Illinois into the economy if they are tax rate will go a long was in continues done the right way. Taxes bringing more businesses to to increase cannot just be cut for the top Indiana, which means more its business earners nor for just the poor. jobs to be filled by Hoosier tax rate, Across the board tax cuts is Indiana is happy to bring how it has to be done. The top workers.” business here. earners do not need the money, In just the past year, so they will invest it. The poor two major companies will benefit by having more brought hundreds of jobs to our community. money to buy necessities and the middle class Fronius USA and Meijer Inc. will bring close will save it or pay down their debt. This will to 1,000 jobs to Portage, as well many jobs help the economy overall. in other areas in the state. These companies Governor Pence fulfilled one of his moved here because Indiana wants their campaign promises in the first five months of business and is willing to fight aggressively to his administration and has made Indiana’s get it. future much brighter for years to come. Have there been bad decisions made in Indiana is well on its way to becoming the Indianapolis in the past nine years, yes. most business friendly and lowest taxing state That does not mean that everything that in the nation will still maintain a very high the legislature and Governor have done has quality of government service.

Give us a little credit PHS should give fine art credit to journalism students Brandon Vickrey Editor-in-Chief

Twitter: @BrandonVickrey The Portage High School Publications Department is in good shape, but in order to elevate the quality level of the publications, help is needed. During the last four years at Portage High School, participating in student journalism has been the most valuable educational aspect of my high school experience. However, there are many college-bound and honors-level students out there who would also benefit from publications. Enrolling in a student publication is often difficult for top tier students because they do not have room in their schedules.

In addition, the courses only count for an elective credit, and the unweighted grade often hurts the grade point average of a straight-A honors student, even if they earn an A in the class. There are other schools in the state that allow publications and journalism credits to be counted as the two fine art credits needed for an honors diploma. If Portage were to implement this system, it would make “recruiting” A.P. students for the staffs much easier, giving us a more compelling argument to present to potential staffers. The journalism and the publications classes should qualify as fine arts because of the page design, graphic design and photography aspects. Participating in publications classes combines writing and reporting with designing and learning visual appeal. If necessary, PHS could follow other schools who do this by having students seeking a fine art credit for the course complete a portfolio with graphics, designed pages and photos. The portfolio would be turned into an art teacher to be properly

graded according to fine art standards. Journalism courses are also valuable because students acquire leadership skills, learn how to work in a group setting, eliminate their fear of interviewing complete strangers, develop public speaking and communication skills and think critically to make decisions regarding the publications. “I’m not sure you can quantify it,” Portage Township Schools Superintendent Ric Frataccia said when asked about the value of student journalism. “Qualitatively, I see it as an immense asset. It gives kids outlets for your creativity and your energy. Besides using your creativity and your energy, you communicate to the outside world what our life is like.” The newspaper and yearbook were both named Hoosier Star Finalists this school year, proving that the publications at PHS already rank among the best in the state. However, if the school can attract additional quality students to the publications, this department will soar to new heights.


May 17, 2013

Students acquire new jobs at Meijer New local supermarket attracts students to apply Name Badge

Zachary Wigsmoen

Khaki Pants

Closed toed shoes

Features Writer

Navy Blue Shirt


Amber Nelson

The opening of Meijer has provided students with new job opportunities. The students all have many different reasons as to why they want to work at Meijer. After working at Egg on Your Face and Texas Roadhouse, senior Stephanie Upton decided it was time to move on from restaurants. “I’ve been working in restaurants for a long time and I really wanted to get into retail and this seemed like the perfect opportunity,” Upton said. While Upton does not want to work in a restaurant, she still thinks that having a job is important. Upton is a softline clerk and will be assisting customers who are looking in the clothes and jewelry

department. “I had all the summers in high school to do fun stuff so now it’s time to grow up,” Upton said. Junior Zachary Wigsmoen will be working at Meijer as a utility worker. As a utility worker, Wigsmoen’s responsibilities include pushing carts, and keeping the parking lot clean. When Wigsmoen applied, he had several reasons for wanting to work at Meijer. “It seemed like it might be fun; I know a lot people who are also going to be working there, and I want to get paid,” Wigsmoen said. Junior Alexander Rocha is going to be working at Meijer as a utility worker. While Rocha is excited to start, he is concerned that work and marching band are going to have conflicting schedules over the sum-

INN Anchors Good as Gold Music department earns All-Music award

mer. One thing that Rocha is not concerned about is his co-workers. “They are strict about making sure you do everything right, but they are also really friendly and have made me feel welcome,” Rocha said. Junior Tyler Gonzalez, who will also be working as a utility worker, decided he wanted to work at Meijer because he thought it would be a great chance to start working. “I researched the company and it seemed like a great opportunity for my first job. It’s going to take up a lot of time but it is worth it in the long run,” Gonzalez said. Rocha also believes that working can be beneficial to students. He believes this is beneficial because then he can have his own money and he can save for the future.

Continued from page 1

from Indiana State School Music Association Caleb Ingersoll Features Writer The Portage High School Music Department has received a well-achieved award dedicated to every section of music. They acquired the “All-Music” award, which is structured in four different categories where band, choir, orchestra and the total department all obtain a gold rating in a Group I from the Indiana State School Music Association. The dedication was assembled from all three sections, where they would rehearse constantly until their performance was perfect, and then follow with a demonstration at local parks and other public places to prepare for the award ceremony. For Band, a minimum of one soloist and one ensemble in a Group I Wind or Percussion event qualifies for a State Solo and Ensemble participation. A gold rating must be acquired in a Jazz Organization event, as well as a gold rating in a High School Organization event, to fully obtain the All-Music award. For choir, the same applies as for the band section. A gold rating is to be attained in a Jazz Organization event, and/or participation in the State Show Choir Finals, as well as a gold rating in a High School Organization event. For Orchestra, the equivalent criteria pertains also. A gold rating is to be

attained in a Jazz Organization event and gold rating in a High School Organization event. To achieve the Total Department Award status, all of the areas that are a part of the school’s music department, achieved the criteria mandatory to obtain the award. Orchestra teacher Carrie Carlson said that she and all her fellow music teachers have been striving to win this astounding award. The music department has not received this award since 2009, four years ago. “The award is very difficult to get, last year there was only five schools in Indiana to get the award, so it is quite prestigious and hard to achieve such a wonderful award,” Carlson said. Carlson said the most challenging part over the years of achieving the award was advancing to regionals for the Marching Band, because some of the schools competing in the Marching Band program, such as Carmel High School, have extremely large budgets to support their program, using funds of over $400,000 to make their program further significant than other school Marching Band programs. “I feel that our budget isn’t just for supporting one program, it is for the total department. It is better to have all orchestra, band and choir strong and equal than to have just one section

strong, so yes, it has been difficult advancing with the Marching Band,” Carlson said. The whole music department was to perform jazz music and even some classical is involved. The students set the bar high for their competitors by combining classes and hosting numerous after-school rehearsals readying themselves for the competition, and in the middle of all that, some students were participating in the musical, sports and other events and had to focus on their academics. The departments were practicing all year and traveled all over the state to prepare for this competition, and special dedication was implicated for the Group I students where they had a required list that they had to play from with much more difficult songs to play. The students played some of the same unsimplified music as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Some of the students are only freshmen or sophomores, so it was important to them to work as a team to make the music play correctly together. “I just feel a great deal of respect for my fellow music teachers, and for the students working here at Portage even though we have a really big school. It takes a lot of devotion from the entire staff to have a quality program like we do,” Carlson said.

Living up to the chemistry Vickrey and Mesarch have on screen is a tough role to fill. “Kiley and I have become really great friends over the year so we have great chemistry together; the banter is definitely one of the things we are looking forward to next year,” Marquez said. Jones shares the same view on the chemistry between her and Marquez. Jones said that her and Marquez’s friendship is a stable foundation for them to build off where each sophomore will be able to joke around with each other while sounding professional at the same time. Like their predecessors, Jones and Marquez are both active in extracurricular activities and are outgoing individuals. “I am a very outgoing person,” Jones said. “There are very few situations that make me uncomfortable or nervous. I love being around and talking to people of any age. I am very social and most of my conversations revolve around sports.” In addition to being the new sports anchor, Jones is involved in softball, and has been playing the sport for seven years and is also the sports editor of

the Legend yearbook staff. Marquez describes her personality as laid back. Marquez said that she enjoys joking around and maintains a laid back attitude. Like Jones, Marquez is involved on the Legend staff as the student life editor, is a softball player, is involved in student council and is a coverage team member for Vickrey and Mesarch serve as inspirations to the two sophomores. “Compared to Brandon and Eric, I have a very long way to go,” Jones said. “They are both incredible at the work they do on both INN and the Pow Wow. I can only hope that I can become as camera suave as the both of them are.” For next year, both sophomores plan to maintain the integrity of INN and do not have any plans to change it. “I think that the current way that INN is run is working extremely successfully,” Jones said. “There is not much at all that I plan on changing, if anything. I simply hope to be a catalyst in keeping the show running smoothly.” Marquez feels the same way toward INN for next year. Marquez said that after Vickrey and


Mesarch have set the bar so high, she and Jones just hope to achieve the same level of success. To commemorate their new positions, Jones and Marquez made their debut on INN on May 1 when they were interviewed by Vickrey and Mesarch. “Sitting at the desk the first time with Brandon and Eric was rather nerve-racking, yet very exciting,” Jones said. “I was pretty nervous, but I think that my nervousness helped me get through it. I wanted to show the student body that I was comfortable on screen, but I also wanted to show that I could interact with both Brandon and Eric, in a fun way that was enjoyable to listen to.” Marquez was nervous as well about her first appearance on INN. “It was definitely nerve-racking,” Marquez said. “It was the first time I was live in front of the entire school and I wasn’t sure what to expect, but we’re all friends so that made it easier and calmed my nerves.” Marquez and Jones will officially become the new anchors of INN when the upcoming school year starts and will deliver the morning announcements every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.


The Back Page 8

Issue 14 | May 17, 2013

‘A huge sense of relief’

Schreier wins state vocational award Schreier for the award after noticing his positive impact on Portage. As many as Features Writer 80,000 students are eligible for this award each year, but only 10 students receive it. For senior Alexander Schreier, Once Schreier learned of his making his mark on the “I thought I had nomination, the next step community has come with was to create a binder full of many benefits. Schreier a pretty good chance letters of recommendation, has been awarded the because I have been lists of community service he Indiana Career and Technical Award of really involved in the has done and projects Schreier had completed. Excellence. Receiving community.” Schreier felt confident in this award was based his chances of winning this upon his great leadership, -Alex Schreier competition from the start. employability and “I thought I had a pretty technical skills. good chance because I have Careers adviser Kelly Ellis nominated been really involved in the community,”

Alexis Sosa

Senior Alex Schreier was awarded the Indiana Career and Technical Award of Excellence. He will be attending Valparaiso University to study nursing. Photo by Melissa Deavers-Lowie

Schreier said. One of his biggest accomplishments was leading a fundraiser for purchasing defibrillators for both the middle and high schools. Under Schreier’s leadership, the fundraiser made $9,000. The results of his competition entry did not return until a month after the submission in November. “I felt a huge sense of relief after I found out I won. It was what seemed like an eternity that I waited to find out,” Schreier said. Schreier plans to attend Valparaiso University to study nursing. After that, he wants to attend Rush University to attain his PhD as a nurse anesthetist.

PHS special needs students A day in the life of: attend “Alice in Wonderland” Jennifer Symer themed Prom at Woodland Park Tyra Allen Features Writer

1. Jacob Frigo and Nicholas Aldrich stand with their peer tutors, Abby Berquist and Hunter Martinko. The Special Needs Prom was held on Saturday, May. 11, 2013. 2. Students dance on Saturday night as music plays. Peer tutors and teachers also attended the formal event. 3. Students take pictures in front of a photo display. Parents were also invited to take photos of their children. 4. Michelle Muniz and Mackenzie Aldridge pose with a cutout of the Mad Hatter from Disney’s Alice in Wonderland. Themed decorations were a large part of the event. Photos by Emily Hensley





Saying goodbye is not an easy thing to do, especially when it comes to someone that is a big part of the connection between the students and the school. This year is Guidance Department Head Jennifer Symer’s last at PHS. Symer has been with the school for 15 years. Before she worked here as a counselor, she taught at a private school in Gary and taught elementary music at Aylesworth and Central Elementary schools. Next year, she will be a guidance counselor for Washington Township. “It’s hard to believe that I have been here for 15 years. In that time, I have developed some wonderful relationships with the staff and students. There have been many ups and downs over the years, but I will always remember my time here with great fondness,” Symer said. Symer arrives at 6:45 a.m. and leaves at 2:45 p.m. Those are the only aspects of her day that stay relatively consistent. Her main responsibilities are to work on the master schedule for the school, administer tests, attend meetings, meet with students, talk to parents and write letters of recommendation. Symer said she handles all of the tasks given to her as the day progresses. Symer said she “enjoys her job very much”, but it is also very stressful on her. She is hoping that taking the position at Washington Township will be less stressful on her because of the lesser amount of students, so she can focus more on the counseling aspect of her job. “It’s painful to leave, but this position is

Guidance counselor Jennifer Symer works in her office during the school day. Symer will be taking a position at Washington Township next school year. Photo by Taylor Mlynski much closer to my home and it is at a smaller school. Because of my responsibilities here, a lot of my time has been taken away from working with the students. I’m hoping that this position will help me stay focused on helping the students,” Symer said. Symer became a counselor because she noticed that when she was a teacher, a lot of the students would want to talk to her about personal problems. She felt like she really wanted to focus on helping students in that way. If Symer is not counseling, she may be found playing the piano, playing the organ at church or eating macaroni and cheese. “I will miss the students the most. And I will miss the other teachers and guidance counselors, as well,“ Symer said.

What Grinds Your Gears? “When people act like wild banshee in the hallways, it is just irritating.” -Amari Wilson, Freshman “When people walk on the wrong side of the stairs and get in my way dude.” -Chris DeBoer, Senior It grinds my gears when people stare and don’t speak.” -Amagany Kimbrough, Freshman

Pow Wow Issue 14  

Issue 14 of the Portage High School Pow Wow

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