Houston, we have a winner

This year's Houston Award recipient


Lily Antor, staff writer

“Whenever I walk into class and I see that Dr. Houston is the sub, I know it’s going to be a good day,” said Lucia Brosco (9). Ask any student at Portage Northern High School about Dr. Houston, and they are sure to describe the pleasant, kind man who is known among many as a popular substitute teacher. Despite all of his present success, he had to overcome many obstacles throughout his life to get to where he is today. “He grew up in a time when education was hard for African-American men to receive, and he achieved so much. He maintained such a great attitude, even through all the hardships he faced,” said Jacob Hurwitz (12), this year’s recipient of the Houston Award.

To recognize and honor all that Dr. Houston has accomplished, the Portage Northern Student Senate created the award in early 2015, and named it for the beloved teacher. “We created this award to honor Dr. Houston for all that he has endured, and to recognize students who have also prevailed through adversity,” said Wes Hyames (11), the Student Senate Treasurer.

I felt that this year’s student winner, and all the applicants, were quite deserving”

— Dr. Houston

Hurwitz is the first person to receive the award following Dr. Houston last year. “Potential candidates were nominated by a teacher and asked to submit a paper, which was then reviewed and limited down to the top four semifinalists, and then finalist, which I was just lucky enough to be, was selected from there,” said Hurwitz on the application process. “In my paper, I wrote about, of course, overcoming my adversities, which stem from my learning delays. They made school and social scenarios a little tougher for me to understand, but not impossible. The labels of these delays are Censoring Process Disorder and ADD. It’s just harder for me to process information, so I may need to take more time on a problem or have something explained in a different way. Like if somebody asked me to open a door, and I don’t see the door they are talking about, I will not know if they meant something like a metaphorical door – I wouldn’t understand what they meant. It’s hard to come up with a concrete example, but I just think a little bit differently, and it takes a little bit more effort and time to bridge those gaps that I have. So I basically wrote about how different ways of abstract thinking helped me overcome my obstacles and achieve a lot despite my difficulties.”

Dr. Houston, a passionate educator and lovely man, has now passed on to Portage Northern his impressive legacy for generations of students to remember. “It was very humbling to have someone bestow that kind of recognition on the work I’ve done,” said Dr. Houston. “I felt that this year’s student winner, and all the applicants, were quite deserving.”

As Jacob Hurwitz reflected on winning the award, he said, “I would like to thank Portage Northern for this incredible opportunity, and all the other semi-finalists for overcoming their own personal adversities. In addition, I want to thank Dr. Houston – he has been an inspiration to us all, and I’m glad that this award will create a legacy for future students to appreciate for a long, long time.”