OETA To Broadcast Tribute to Academic Award Winners

OETA To Broadcast Tribute to Academic Award Winners

With the cancellation of its May 16 Academic Awards Banquet due to COVID-19, the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence is partnering with OETA Public Television to broadcast a 30-minute tribute to award winning-students and educators at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, May 16, and 3:30 p.m. Sunday, May 17. The program will also be shown on OETA World Channel at 8:30 p.m. May 23 and 7:30 p.m. May 30.

The program, featuring videos submitted by the 2020 Academic All-Staters and other special guests, will be hosted by longtime Tulsa television anchor Scott Thompson, a trustee of the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence. The program is produced in partnership with Red Rock Video Services of Edmond.

“When we learned that our Academic Awards Banquet would need to be canceled, we immediately began seeking creative ways to give our honorees the statewide recognition and honor they deserve,” said Emily Stratton, executive director of the foundation. “OETA has been a loyal supporter of our Academic Awards Program, broadcasting our banquet for many years. We are so grateful they agreed to help us pay special tribute to our award winners through a broadcast to premiere May 16 – the same evening we would have held our banquet.”

The televised program will honor 100 of the state’s top public high school seniors as Academic All-Staters. Selected from 495 nominations statewide, the student honorees hail from 75 schools in 69 Oklahoma school districts. The 2020 Academic All-State class is the 34th to be selected by the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence in what has been described as “Oklahoma’s most rigorous academic competition.”

Since the award program’s inception in 1987, some 3,400 high school seniors from 326 school districts have been named Academic All-State scholars. Each of this year’s All-Staters will receive a $1,000 merit-based scholarship and a medallion. This year’s All-Staters scored an average of 33.9 on the ACT, with 15 recipients scoring a perfect 36. The students’ average GPA was 4.20. In addition, 40 of this year’s All-Staters are National Merit semifinalists, and two are National Hispanic Scholar semifinalists.

The program will also recognize five innovative public school educators as recipients of its $5,000 Oklahoma Medal for Excellence Awards. This year’s honorees are elementary teaching winner Michelle Rahn, a sixth-grade STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) teacher at Will Rogers Junior High in Claremore; secondary recipient Shelley Self, an art teacher at Coweta High School; elementary/secondary administration winner Chuck McCauley, superintendent of Bartlesville Public Schools; regional university/community college teaching winner Dr. David Bass, professor of biology at the University of Central Oklahoma, Edmond; and research university teaching recipient Dr. Edralin Lucas, professor of nutritional sciences, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater.

Educator and author Erin Gruwell, who was scheduled to be the keynote speaker for this year’s Academic Awards Banquet, plans to deliver the address at the 2021 banquet. All 2020 honorees will be invited to attend next year’s banquet as guests of the foundation. The annual gala event, which is attended by nearly 1,000 people, has been described as the” Academy Awards of public education in Oklahoma.”

The Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence is a nonprofit, charitable organization founded in 1985 to recognize and encourage academic excellence in Oklahoma’s public schools. Through its Academic Awards Program, the foundation has awarded more than $4.8 million in merit-based scholarships and cash awards to outstanding students and educators.

Following the OETA broadcast, the tribute will also be available on the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence website at ofe.org.