By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
OKLAHOMA CITY – Five outstanding Oklahoma educators and 100 of the state’s top public high school seniors will be recognized on Saturday May 27 at 8 p.m., when OETA premieres its statewide broadcast of the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence 31st Academic Awards Banquet.
Best-selling author and historian H.W. Brands served as keynote speaker for the banquet. The broadcast will air on OETA Channel 13 in Oklahoma City and Channel 11 in Tulsa. Subsequent broadcasts will be shown on OETA’s OKLA channel. For digital broadcast listings, visit the station’s website at oeta.tv.
The gala celebration, taped May 20 at the Renaissance Tulsa Convention Center, is sponsored by the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence, a nonprofit organization that recognizes and encourages academic excellence in Oklahoma’s public schools. This year’s ceremony was emceed by Oklahoma City University President and foundation trustee Robert Henry.
The awards ceremony recognizes 100 public high school seniors from across the state as Academic All-Staters. Winners from the Oklahoma City metro area include Pranshu Adhikari of Norman High School, Binghong Chen of Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics (OSSM), Isaiah W. Gilley of Harding Charter Preparatory High School, Madelyn Haden of Moore High School, Amy Huyen of Classen School of Advanced Studies, Augustus “Gus” Kmetz of Norman High School, Grace Lu of OSSM, John Thanh Nguyen of OSSM, Sarah Thai of Southmoore High School, Andison Tran of Classen School of Advanced Studies, Anhthu Ngoc Trinh of Southmoore High School, Muhammad Usman of Norman North High School, Charlotte Woods of Westmoore High School, and Karena Zhao of Edmond Memorial High School.
This year’s recipients of Oklahoma Medals for Excellence in Teaching: elementary winner Jane Williams, Centennial Elementary School, Edmond; secondary winner Gary Piercey, formerly of Francis Tuttle Technology Center, Oklahoma City; community college/regional university teaching honoree Antoinette Castillo, professor of humanities, Rose State College, Midwest City; and research university teaching winner Dr. Allen Hertzke, David Ross Boyd Professor of Political Science, University of Oklahoma, Norman.
The winner of the Medal for Excellence in elementary/secondary administration is Dr. Robert Romines, superintendent, Moore Public Schools.
Bios of this year’s honored students and educators are available online.
Brands’ keynote address, “What History Can Teach Us, and What It Can’t” will be shown during the broadcast.
A professor at the University of Texas at Austin, Brands holds the Jack S. Blanton Sr. Chair in History. Described as one of America’s master historians, he is the author of more than 25 books, including “Traitor to His Class: The Privileged Life and Radical Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt” and “The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin,” both nominated for Pulitzer Prizes in Biography.
Brands most recent work is “The General and the President: MacArthur and Truman at the Brink of Nuclear War.” For the past four years, Brands has been writing a history of the United States in Haiku form on Twitter. A regular guest on national television and radio, Brands is frequently interviewed by the American and foreign press.
“OETA is honored to have had been a part of this prestigious event for over 30 years,” said Mark Norman, OETA interim executive director. “OETA’s mission, to inform, inspire and connect Oklahomans to large ideas, is mirrored by the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence. By airing this awards ceremony we’re shining a light on Oklahoma’s brightest minds. Hopefully some young students will be watching and see what’s possible with dedication and hard work.”
A link to the broadcast is available on the foundation website at ofe.org. DVDs of the awards ceremony can be purchased for $12 each. Mail checks payable to the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence to 101 Park Ave., Suite 420, Oklahoma City, OK 73102. Orders should include a mailing address and daytime phone number.
For more information, call the foundation office at 405-236-0006.