The Portage community came out in force Friday morning at Portage High School’s football field for the ABC7 Chicago’s Friday Flyover. Hundreds of kids of all ages as well as adults came out for the event, which is part of a series that ABC7 does every year to reach out to eight Chicagoland communities and engage with their viewership. This marks the second Northwest Indiana Friday Flyover they’ve done this year, the first being with Michigan City High School on September 15th.
The Friday Flyover usually consists of local high school students forming different designs on their high school’s football field, but with Portage, the entire community came out thanks to the school system’s All Call notification system, which got the word out about the event to the entire community before the event.
Portage Township Schools Superintendent Amanda Alaniz was excited to have not just Portage High School be in the spotlight Friday morning, but also the greater Portage community.
“I think this is a great opportunity for our kids to be showcased, as well as our community,” said Alaniz. “We do a lot of great things in Portage Township Schools and throughout Portage Township.”
For Superintendent Alaniz, it’s about enriching the lives of the kids that Portage Township Schools helps raise.
“We do focus on our kids, educating, empowering, and inspiring excellence,” Alaniz said. “I think this is just another one of those examples where we have the opportunity to let our kids shine, and that’s important.”
For Portage, this was about more than just the high school students' having a fun and out-of-the-ordinary way to showcase their school.
“I think this is a crucial element in showcasing the success and the pride that we have as a community,” said Alaniz. “It’s an opportunity for us to share in the excitement that goes on with all of our athletics, our academics, and just the various things that bring the school community together.”
Indeed, fans young and old of the Portage High School and Portage Township communities came from near and far to participate in the event. Kathleen Tatlock, who graduated from Portage High School in 1963 and has lived in Portage in her entire life, walked several blocks from her home in the Port Crossing community to the high school using her walker to participate in the event.
“I heard about the Flyover,” said Tatlock. “I got the messages about it, both text and a phone call, and I called and asked about it because I thought it was interesting and wanted to participate.”
Tatlock loved how important events such as the flyover is for the community.
“I think it brings everyone together,” she said. “Everyone’s out for one purpose, a good purpose, and I think that’s very nice.”
Tatlock didn’t have to walk home after the event - instead she was escorted home on a golf cart by Portage High School Principal Max Gill, who was also out celebrating this great community-building event.
“[The Portage Friday Flyover] is very special,” said Gill, “A lot of people had a lot of hard work putting this together, we have a great student turnout, so it’s been a perfect morning.”
The Students really enjoyed being a part of something that will reach so many people through ABC7 and were excited to bring attention to their school and community. Karisma Edwards, a Portage High School Student in the JROTC program, was happy for the change in routine.
“I thought it was amazing getting up and coming out here while everyone was still sleeping,” said Edwards. “I think it’s amazing because the whole entire community gathered together and we’re all working together, so it’s pretty great.”
Titan Stalbaum, a junior at Portage High School, also enjoyed the novelty of the Flyover.
“This is actually pretty fun,” Stalbaum said, “We don’t normally do this, it’s unique and new.”
For ABC7’s Meteorologist Tracy Butler, who was covering the event on the ground, reaching out to her viewership and fans in Northwest Indiana has been a goal of hers for a long time.
“Over the years, I’ve been doing a program called the Weather Sketchers’ Club,” said Butler. "I invite children ages 13 and under to draw a picture of the weather and send it to me, and I show them on TV. I’ve had not just hundreds, but probably thousands of drawings from children and students in Indiana, and I’ve never been able to get out to a high school in Indiana to do a Friday Flyover, and that’s why I really wanted to come over to Indiana.”
Butler was staggered by the amount of community support in Portage on Friday.
“I knew when I pulled in this morning,” said Butler, “There was just this energy from the students. There were 8th graders out here at 4:00 this morning- 8th graders! We were talking about this being for high school, but there were elementary, middle, and high school kids here, there were community members, the fire and police departments. They were here as a community, and what better way to showcase a neighborhood than to just get the whole community?”
For more information on Portage High School, please visit http://phs.portage.k12.in.us/
For ABC7’s coverage of the event, check out http://abc7chicago.com/sports/friday-flyover-portage-high-school/2460552/