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#1StudentNWI: Portage Students Plan to Take on the World

Student in the Spotlight
Although Senior Jonathan Moran is new to Portage High School, he has received some of Portage High School’s greatest awards and has made some great accomplishments himself. Moran and his younger brother Jacob made this move last fall from Crown Point High School.

Coming in, Moran’s only goal was to be a State Champion in wrestling and to graduate high school. Although, due to moving eligibility, both of the Moran brothers were unable to wrestle.

While Moran was unable to wrestle as an indian, he has become involved in many other different activities at Portage. Moran has become a member of Portage’s National Honor Society where he often partakes in community service projects.

Along with being involved in NHS and wrestling, Moran has earned Portage’s highest honor of being an ACE. ACES is a program unique to Portage that celebrates the top 30 students of that year’s graduating class. He will be graduating 7 of 570 in his class and he believes this is one of his greatest accomplishments.

“I am really proud and humbled by this,” Moran said. “There are so many smart, talented students at PHS who work really hard. I feel honored to be graduating this high in my class.”

While Moran is excited about all of his high school accomplishments, he knows that the best is yet to come. Moran is headed to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland next year. Moran will “ship off” on June 29 to begin the six week program known as Plebe Summer, which is a bootcamp style program that prepares him for the next four years.

Moran applied for a nomination from a congressman last fall and was nominated by Rep. Pete Visclosky to the Naval Academy. He was required to interview with Visclosky, one of the most nerve wracking moments of his life.

“When I walked in, I was intimidated right off the bat,” Moran said. “I was surrounded by intelligent people and these people were very serious about their job. I prepared beforehand. I just answered honestly and hoped for the best; I didn’t do anything special.”

Although Moran does not know what he wants to after the Naval Academy, but he knows that he is excited for the future.

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“I’m blessed to be have come from humble beginnings and get accepted to a prestigious institute that will hopefully set me up for the next four years and so on,” Moran said. “I look forward to accepting the upcoming challenged and making my family, friends and community proud.”

What’s Upcoming
Porta-botz has quickly become Portage’s most talked about programs. What started off as a small group of future engineers who just wanted to play around with robotics several years ago, has grown into one of the winningest programs at Portage.

Team 2567X won the State Championship for robotics on Feb. 25 which qualified the team for Worlds and also won the Design Award. This award said that their notebook, which contains documents about how their robot works, was the best of the 60 teams that competed at the state level. Senior Mikey Sobczak said this was greatest accomplishment of his life.

“This was the proudest moment of my life,” Sobczak said. “For the first time, I felt like all the time and work I put into robotics paid off. I don’t regret spending those 26 hours a week at the school perfecting my robot.”

The teams design and build their robots in the fall and start competing in October. Team 2567X has had their fair share of wins and losses this year. The have lost numerous competitions during this year, but they won the ones that mattered.

The team won their first competition which they believed would set the tone for the rest of the year. They lost competitions, but they won Jan. 7 and they won the Design Award at State.

According to Sobczak, the team is working on perfecting the bots by playing with them until they break. Their plan is to make the bot unstoppable.

The biggest focus of robotics is teamwork, problem solving and a good brain for engineering.

“The biggest thing you need is resilience,” Sobczak said. “It’s difficult when you think that you’ve perfected your bot and then it falls apart in competition. You have to learn how to deal with it and still shake hands with the guy that beat you.”

The team will be working hard in practice until they compete at Worlds in Kentucky in late April.

“We are all hoping that out of 112 bots in our division that we can take the Design Award again,” Sobczak said. “We are going to do everything we can to perfect these bots.”

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