The Portal Middle High School Panthers have created a new pre-game tradition that links school spirit to the community’s turpentine history.
The new ritual will begin this Friday, September 3 at the team’s home opener.
The school’s varsity football players and coaches will run down Panther Hill and tap a three-foot refurbished turpentine drum emblazoned with the Panther emblem and “Portal Georgia The Turpentine City,” as they enter the athletic complex.
Friday marks the team’s home opener against the Wheeler County Bulldogs. Fans are asked to arrive early and be seated by 7:10 p.m., to witness the new ritual that will now take place before each home athletic competition on the field and during the school’s annual commencement ceremonies in the spring. The marching band and cheerleaders will perform on the field before the team makes their entrance.
“This is a way to honor our town’s turpentine heritage and to show our love for the Portal community,” said Justin Chester, Portal’s athletic director and assistant principal. “ We hope to see our community support the Panthers and enjoy the new tradition.”
Morgan Chester, a 1966 graduate of Portal funded The Turpentine Drum project, but many other alumni and supporters made it possible as well. Kim Carter (Class of 1980) donated the drum that is an actual turpentine drum from the Portal Turpentine Still. Talented community members like Spencer Harp of Sharp Engineering decorated the tribute, which is affixed to a brick podium built by James Williams.
“We are also very thankful for our Bulloch County Schools Maintenance Department staff of Ryan Macy, Al Cartee, Robby Sewell and Bobby Brown who further helped make this project possible with their skills,” said Chester.
Each fall the Portal Heritage Society, Inc. and the Town of Portal host the annual Catface Turpentine Festival with family events and historical demonstrations. They are scheduled to host the 40th annual event on October 2, from 10 a.m. – 7 p.m., at the historic E. C. Carter turpentine still, located in the Portal Festival Grounds at 217 Turpentine Dr. in Portal. Turpentine is made from pine resin and has been used in many products for hundreds of years. Portal is known for having one of the last remaining working turpentine stills in Georgia and celebrates its rich agricultural history.
Portal is one of three high schools in the Bulloch County School System. It is a middle-high campus that serves nearly 450 students in grades 6 to 12.