Portage High School students participate in a variety of innovations.
Decathlon: Teams compete in 10 events about one topic. Students can earn individual medals as well as team medals. Teams can compete at the local, regional, state and national levels. A high school team must include nine students: three GPA = A (honors), three GPA = B (scholastic), and three GPA = C (varsity). Students compete only against students in his or her level. There are six are multiple choice tests in math, science, economics, language and literature, social science and fine arts. Additionally, students perform a prepared and an impromptu speech, write an essay, and are interviewed by a panel of business leaders. The final event — Super Quiz — is a scholastic relay on the theme topic for the year. Local and regional competitions in December and January send the top 20 statewide teams to the prestigious two-day state finals in February at Purdue. The team winning state represents Indiana in April at nationals, vying for scholarship money and nationwide recognition.
Innovative Practices: Students studied the traditional way but Elizabeth Wysocki also brought fun into staying after school to do more work. She set up a tea (punch and cookies) with Robert Parker (guest speaker), where the kids could chat with him about World War II novels. The students also practiced online using a purchased decathlon program that allowed them to quiz themselves and compete against others to see how they were doing.
The Portage team was third in the area, a state qualifying team and earned three individual event medals at state.
Science Olympiad: Science Olympiad has led a revolution in science education. What began as a grassroots assembly of science teachers is now one of the premiere science competitions in the nation, providing rigorous, standards-based challenges to nearly 7,000 teams in 50 states. High school students can compete in 23 different events in physical science and chemistry; technology and engineering; inquiry and nature of science; life, personal and social science; and earth and space science. Students compete at area, state and then national.
Innovative Practices: Heather Castle would give the students the direction for the events, the students would research it and then would build it or try it out in her room. She allowed them to try the events using inquiry based learning and then would help them analyze what went right or wrong. Meeting after school allows the students the needed time to do the hands-on activities.
PHS earned the third place team trophy in Class AA, seven event medals and fifth overall at the IUN regional competition last Saturday. This also earned the team an invitation to the Wild Card State tournament March 8.
Quiz Bowl: A game in which two teams compete head to head to answer questions from all areas of knowledge, including history, literature, science, fine arts, current events, sports, and popular culture. The defining feature of quiz bowl is the use of a "buzzer system" (or, more formally, a "lockout device") that lets players interrupt the reading of a question when they know the answer. That element adds a dimension of confidence, anticipation and rapid recall to what is primarily a game about knowing facts. Opportunity exists for competition at both the varsity and junior varsity levels. The teams with the best records in conference play may advance to a statewide tournament of champions.
Innovative Practices: Students practice using a test bank and the buzzers. They have fun trying to get the buzzer and light to go off first. Catherine Nye worked with students on current affairs. She had them each come in with several news events to teach the others.
This year many practices were missed because of snow days and since students are in other activities, practices could not be made up. Subsequently the team is 2 and 7 and ranked 9th. Last year, however, the team was a state qualifying team.
This column solely represents the writer's opinion.