#1StudentNWI: The Future of Journalism is at Portage High School

#1StudentNWI: The Future of Journalism is at Portage High School

Student in the Spotlight
Senior Matt Rasnic has spent his last four years in school being involved in numerous clubs, athletics and being an honors student. This past week, Rasnic was notified that he is a finalist for Indiana High School Press Association Student Journalist of the Year.

“After spending days putting together my portfolio I finally finished and submitted to IHSPA,” said Rasnic. “Kids from all over the state submit their portfolios then IHSPA selects a small group which is less than ten this year.”

Since Rasnic was a sophomore he has been on their Legend yearbook staff and this year he has been the photography editor for both the Legend and the school newspaper, the Pow Wow. Publications adviser,

Melissa Deavers-Lowie says she is proud of Rasnic’s achievements.

“Matthew really deserves this because he’s a really hard-working student for me these last three years and I am very proud of him and all his accomplishments,” said Deavers-Lowie. “I think this is a great way to wrap up his senior year and receive recognition for the work he’s done.”

Along with his involvement with journalism, Rasnic was a manager for the football team, a member of National Honor Society and is a staff leader for Natural Helpers. Along with being involved in school activities, Rasnic also holds three jobs. He is an associate at Panera Bread, a coach at Northwest Athletics and is a writer for PortageLife.

“It takes a lot of organization and diligence,” said Rasnic. “But even the most organized things don’t always work, so I’m so glad that I have good friends and family to help me deal with all the stress.”

On March 15, Rasnic, along with other Portage student and IHSPA Student Journalist of the Year finalist, Lydia Gerike, will find out whether not either of them were selected to be IHSPA Student Journalist of the Year.

What’s Coming Up
Natural Helpers is a national program that takes selected students and staff on a retreat each year to promote team building skills and help unify the school. Portage is preparing to take this year’s chosen junior and seniors on their annual retreat between March 17 and March 19.

Each year, the junior and seniors take an anonymous survey where they choose approximately 40 students who they feel they can go to for help and can trust. Senior Kyle Simmons is excited to make the trip for the first time.

“I’m excited to get to know the strangers on the trip that I don’t know and get closer to the people I do know,” said Simmons. “I would like to get to know everyone better and I heard it was a lot of fun, so I’m really excited."

The sponsors for Natural Helpers are teachers Marcia Hobart and Lynn Wilson. They accompany the students on the trip each year. Each year, senior staff leaders are chosen to help the students who are making the trip for the first time. Senior Emily Sajda is looking forward to taking this trip for the second time.

“I’m so excited to take a great group of students to make bonds with them and create new friendships,” said Sajda. “It’s a great program and I’m counting down the days until we leave.”

Teacher in the Spotlight
Health Teacher and Head Boys’ Basketball Coach Rick Snodgrass has been teaching for 38 years, but still loves coming to work every day. Not only does Snodgrass, but so do his players and students.

Snodgrass has been coaching at Portage for the past _ years and has led the Indians to multiple winning seasons. Senior Ian Collier has played for Snodgrass for three years and loves what Snodgrass teaches him about coaching and about life.

“We can all look at him as a dad because of his professional manner that carries with himself with and wants us to replicate,” said Collier. “We’re all expected to focus on little things in all aspects of what we do like wearing coats and ties or having good sportsmanship.”

Snodgrass helps his athletes both on and off the court. Senior Canaan Cooper is happy that Snodgrass is always pushing him to succeed.

“Snodgrass is always on us about our grades,” said Cooper. “I can go to him for anything and he’s always pushing me to do better in my classes so I can go wherever I want to go to school next year.”

Snodgrass has always known he wanted to be a coach and is happy to have been brought up in a supportive family surrounded by athletics.

“I was involved with athletics at an early age,” said Snodgrass. “I was blessed to play for many great coaches who encouraged me to go into education as well as pursue a career in coaching.”

Not only do his athletes see him as a father figure, but so do many students. Junior Haley Mergl had him as a teacher last year and still visits him daily.

“Snodgrass is truly a saint and he always made health class more enjoyable,” said Mergl. “He is like a father figure for so many within the school and I love going and talking to him. He always makes me laugh and I love his [southern] accent. He’s more than just a health teacher to me.”

Although Snodgrass has been teaching and coaching for many years, he does not see himself retiring anytime in the near future.

“I still love what I do,” said Snodgrass. “There’s nothing more rewarding than watching a young person grow both on and off the court. Working with young adults gives me a fresh and promising perspective on life. They keep me feeling young.”

What's happening
For Indiana’s bicentennial, Portage has received a bison. The bison arrived at the school the week of March 7 and has been put in the Commons area.

The art classes are planning to paint the bison. At first, many students were confused about the bison, but now many students are embracing his presence. This is part of Indiana Association of United Way’s public art project to celebrate Indiana’s bicentennial. There is, at least, one bison in every country of the state and they will be completed before Memorial Day weekend.

The bison has his own Twitter page, @PHSBison, run by an anonymous student. The tweets give information about the bison and “he” has conversations with several students.

Like most, Junior Hailey Robinson was at first confused by the Bison’s presence, but after receiving more information about why it is here, her thoughts have changed.

“There’s a lot of talented artists in this school,” said Robinson. “I think it's super cool and I'm really excited to see what it end up looking like.”