On Nov. 16, I was given the opportunity to attend Portage Northern High School for a day. Despite knowing many students who attend PN, I have to admit, I felt incredibly frazzled turning down Oregon Avenue and attempting to approach the parking lot filled with buzzing teenagers.
For starters, I had to drive at least 10 mph slower than usual due to the multiple speed bumps present in the lot; yet, I was relieved to see someone was conscious of my everlasting struggle to park straight, as they extended the spaces between parking rows a significantly larger amount than PC.
After successfully finding a parking space to my liking, I found myself with familiar faces walking into the not-so freezing school and felt rather welcome. Immediately, however, I spotted differences. Most students gather around the upper commons bridge until a five-minute bell rings, after which they immediately disperse. No one had to put their backpacks in their lockers because they are allowed to carry them to class.
With the advantage of carrying backpacks, students are hardly tardy, as they have plenty of time to use the bathroom or talk to friends in the time that PC students would have to visit their lockers. The lack of students visiting their lockers between every class makes the hallways appear much larger. In fact, they are almost two times wider than PC’s. With hallways so wide, students can walk in fours without bumping into anyone walking the opposite way.
From first to seventh hour, the mood in each classroom seemed happy and personal, as many classes are covered from floor to ceiling in decorations such as Christmas lights, posters and Hawaiian leis. Some teachers, like Mr. Crocker and Mr. Neal, play music between every class to lighten the mood, and others, like Mr. Andrew and Mr. Moon, keep couches outside their classrooms.
The curriculum, however, is almost exactly the same as PC, which is not a shock, as many teachers collaborate between the two schools. PN does offer classes like Latin and German, which PC does not, creating more opportunities for students to branch out and take courses they wouldn’t normally take.
Though only 30 minutes long, lunch was an entirely different experience at PN. It is referred to as “first” and “second,”with students who have a math, science or art for fifth hour having first lunch, and everyone else having second lunch. By being located so close to the main strip of restaurants on Westnedge, PN students have many opportunities for food such as Panera, KFC, Noodles & Co. and Jersey Giant, yet because of the copious traffic lights, most students don’t risk a tardy just to get a good meal. Because of this, a lot of students take to eating in their cars in the parking lot.
Following lunch, I found myself perplexed by the puzzle-like layout of the science wing. After being accustomed to the cookie-cutter technique at PC, I was overwhelmed by the amount of twists and turns in the halls required to attend one class.
This layout does not inhibit the decorations however, and the walls are covered in murals, posters and QR Codes to keep students involved. The PN Student Senate is in charge of many events like school dances, blood drives and fundraisers. The Student Senate representatives announce upcoming activities in almost every class, which causes a greater amount of participation.
Prior to my visit to PN, I thought that PC was inconsistent, with a hand dryer being broken in the second floor women’s bathroom since last spring; yet, PN students note that four of the hand dryers in the women’s bathrooms at their school have been broken for almost three years now. It turns out, broken hand dryers are just as common as the bad cell service in Portage Public Schools.
Despite the differences between PC and PN, it is important to note how successful and excellent both high schools are. They have helped copious amounts of men and women into successful professions and lifestyles, and I can’t help but be thankful for the many opportunities I have been given and will be given until graduation, even if I am freezing my butt off to get there.