Significant Events in Portage Public Schools History


C. Skinner1922: C. H. Fletcher becomes first president of the Board of Education with trustees A. L. Snow, secretary; Harm Schuring, treasurer; H. B. Sweetland; and George Chipman. Cleora A. Skinner (pictured right) is named first superintendent, serving until 1939; Administration Building is built as Portage Agricultural School, housing five faculty members and 183 students from elementary through high school.

1924: The first annual commencement of Portage High School is held in the building's auditorium on June 18. Graduates are Bertha Dustin, Gerrit Fletcher, Dorothea Huizinga, Mason Kintner, and Charles Matteson, who graduated in memoriam.

1928: Lake Center Elementary is built as a part of School District #7 and became part of Portage Township Schools in 1950. 

1932: Portage Agricultural School wins state title in   basketball under Coach Fran Pellegrom, the first of 40 state championship titles.

1934: Harry Sweetland becomes president of the Board of Education.

1938: George Chipman becomes president of the Board of Education.

1939: Hugh G. Archer named superintendent, serving until 1943.

1943: Lewis D. Crawford named superintendent, serving until 1947.

1944: Gardner Garlick becomes president of the Board of Education.

1946: Stuart McCamley becomes president of the Board of Education, and later the school district football stadium is named in his honor.

1947: Varl O. Wilkinson named superintendent, serving until 1970.

1949: Central High is built as Portage Township High School. 

1951: Community Education Center is built as Milham Elementary. The building now serves a Community High School, Curious Kids Day Care and Preschool. 

1953: Clair Branch becomes president of the Board of Education.

1955: Waylee Elementary built. This building has been converted into the Administration Building.

1957: Central Middle built. 

1960: Okko Brouwer becomes president of the Board of Education; Amberly Elementary School is built. 

1961: Dr. Bob VanderRoest becomes president of the Board of Education; North Middle is built. 

1962: Haverhill Elementary built. 

1963: Angling Road Elementary built. Portage becomes a city.

1965: Northern High is built. 

1970: Dr. L. William Boyer becomes president of the Board of Education; Dr. George L. Conti named superintendent, serving until 1986.

1968: Woodland Elementary is built. 

1969: Central Elementary is built. 

1972: West Middle is built. 

1975: Gayl Werme becomes president of the Board of Education

1978: James Ellinger becomes president of the Board of Education

1981: Portage Athletic Foundation established, and has donated more than $350,000 to District athletic programs.

1986: Patricia Dolan becomes president of the Board of Education; James H. Rikkers named superintendent, serving until 2002.

1989: Kevin Flynn becomes president of the Board of Education.

1990: Portage Education Foundation is created by the Board of Education. The PEF has donated more than $300,000 to faculty, students, and school and District programs.

1991: Philip Sheldon becomes president of the Board of Education.

1994: Moorsbridge Elementary is built. 

1995: John Whyte becomes president of the Board of Education

1996: Dr. Kevin Hollenbeck becomes president of the Board of Education.

1997: The District celebrates its 75th Anniversary.

1998: PPS is authorized to offer the International Baccalaureate Program for juniors and seniors, with Northern and Central becoming the first two IB public high schools in west Michigan. Half of all juniors and seniors take one or more IB classes.

2002: Dr. Peter J. McFarlane named superintendent.

2003: Tom Eddy becomes president of the Board of Education.

2005: Portage Education Foundation celebrates its 15th Anniversary.

2006: Shirley Johnson becomes president of the Board of Education.

2007: Marsha A. Wells is named as the 8th superintendent.

2009: Jennifer Whistler becomes president of the Board of Education; 12th Street Elementary School is dedicated on August 31 as the first new school since 1994. Lake Center Elementary is rebuilt, as is Portage Central High School. Northern High school undergoes significant upgrades and remodeling.   

2010:  Dr. Kevin Hollenbeck becomes president of the Board of Education.

2011:  Robert "Bo" Snyder becomes a president of the Board of Education.  Dr. Ric Perry becomes the 9th superintendent of the District.

2013:   Robert Olsen becomes the 10th superintendent.

2013:  Mark Bielang becomes  the 11th superintendent of Portage Public Schools.

2014:   Randy VanAntwerp becomes president of the Board of Education.

2016:  Work begins on the Building the Future of Learning project to construct new Portage North and Portage Central Middle Schools, renovate West Middle School, add athletic event facilities and pools to Northern and Central High Schools.  Technology investment will bring 1-1 computing to the Portage learning community and new buses to enhance transportation service.