Portage High School takes enormous pride in sponsoring a unique concept in promoting the youth of our high school. The Portage High School Outstanding Young Man Scholarship Program, begun in 1991 through the vision and efforts of Joe Stevens, of the Portage High Thespians, and former auditorium director and master of ceremonies, was designed “to recognize the accomplishments of the young men who are seniors at PHS by giving them scholarships for the furtherance of their education after high school.”
On Feb. 8, 23 years after its beginning, the tradition in excellence of showing the many talents and good things our young men do and that these young men are positively involved in their school and community continues. Please plan to join us at 7:30 in the Portage High East auditorium for this fine program, the only one of its kind.
As in the past, this year 's 30-plus senior men are diverse in their accomplishments, interests, aspirations and backgrounds. They strive to uphold Portage Township Schools Five Critical Values of honesty, respect, responsibility, fairness and compassion and are a true reflection of all that is good in Portage Township and in our high school.
Contestants will be judged by a judge's interview, academic achievement, presentation and address, a casual segment, and the always entertaining physical segment. Additional highlights will include showcasing musical and other talents by some of our contestants as well as by this year's Distinguished Young Woman Erin Lichnerowicz. Erin also choreographs and teaches the program's fitness routine and will lead representatives from last year's Distinguished Young Woman program in presenting the finalists with their awards.
Our 2013 OYM Eric Mesarch will take a break from his studies at Valparaiso University to join master of ceremonies Portage Police Chief Troy Williams as host of this year's program.
Eric is a paragon of OYM and its values. While a student at PHS, Eric was an Academic ACE, a stellar corner infielder for our varsity baseball team, co-founder of the popular Indians News Network and was its news anchor for three years, and he was awarded Academic All State Honors while on the baseball team.
At VU. Eric continues with his success as an honor student while majoring in civil engineering. He maintains a 4.0 grade point average and is on the dean's list. Eric also has a part-time job to help pay for college tuition. Eric's goals are to continue with his academic success and to attend graduate school to continue his studies in civil engineering.
This year, OYM's theme is Heroes. The program will award nearly $10,000 in academic scholarship money and gifts provided by Thespians and from the generous donations by many individuals, businesses and corporate sponsors. They are our program's heroes. This money is awarded solely for the purpose of furthering students' education after high school. The generous contributions have provided almost $200,000 in financial aid and gifts to dozens of our school's young men over the years.
Please know that the individuals in this growing fraternity of truly outstanding young men have proven to be a wise investment in our community and school. Their many successes in academics, in their personal and professional lives as leaders, volunteers, servicemen and as family men, many of whom are still actively involved in our area and community, personify what has become known as The Portage Way.
Please consider giving a contribution to help this excellent scholarship program to continue. You can do so by contacting Portage High or simply by attending our show. Call (219) 764-6126 for further information.
This column solely represents the writer's opinion.