By Joseph Pratt
Deidra Novinger, dean of students at Portsmouth Elementary, has been cheering and bouncing around the school this week, trying to raise the spirit and support for her big blue nation, the University of Kentucky (UK). She even did the splits in the cafeteria to get people cheering on the Cats.
The UK spirit event is special to Novinger, not only because she says that she bleeds blue, but because she is retiring this year after a 35-year career in Portsmouth City Schools. Novinger’s career spans work done in every of the old Portsmouth buildings, except for Grant. She said that the decision to retire is a bittersweet one, and she loves her Portsmouth family, but she is left with no choice due to new state regulations on retirement.
“I love the kids and the people I work with, but with state changes in the way teachers retire, those of us who wish to have the higher retirement have to go out this year or next,” Novinger said. “I just also feel that it is time for someone younger to step in and to have a good job.”
Novinger said that she has always been a fan of UK is proud to have instilled that same pride in her son.
“I am a Cats fan. I was born in Kentucky and came to Ohio in 1978 and have been here ever since. I do bleed blue though. My son is a graduate of the University of Kentucky, and in all honesty, they have all my money. I’m certainly going to support someone who has all my money for education,” Novinger said. “It’s awesome to see everyone in blue. Everyone here is like family and there were probably a few that support their home team, Ohio State, although we are aware they have bowed down in the competition. The next best and awesome team is the Kentucky Wildcats and there is nothing like them.”
Robin Drew, head custodian of Portsmouth Elementary, also helped Novinger plan the UK spirit day, because she says Kentucky heritage is a major part of her family. Drew painted and hung all of the spirit banners and is very thankful to be in a school and to work under a principal that supports her and the other teacher’s favor of UK. Her goal is to get the photo and word out to UK and for the photo of their support to go viral.
“I bleed blue through and through. My mother was a UK graduate, her sister, my cousins, a niece and nephew, my daughter and more,” said Drew, “We’ve been cheering on the Kentucky Wildcats for so long. I was at the game when we recently beat that dirty “L” word (Louisville) of a Kentucky school and I knew I just wanted to come back and celebrate it here around the building.”
The UK basketball team is in the Sweet Sixteen and will compete against the Louisville Cardinals Friday, March 28 at 9:45 p.m. Kentucky has both the most all-time wins and the highest all-time winning percentage in the history of college basketball.
Joseph Pratt can be reached at the Portsmouth Daily Times 740-353-3101, EXT 287, or by Twitter @JosephPratt03.