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OFE News Release

May 21 Academic Awards Banquet To Honor State’s Top Students, Educators

“Honoring Oklahoma’s Shining Stars” is the theme of the 19th annual Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence Academic Awards Banquet recognizing the state’s top public school students and outstanding educators Saturday, May 21, at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City.

Jack Valenti
Jack Valenti, former president and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, will be the featured speaker at the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence 19 th annual Academic Awards Banquet, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. May 21 at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City.

More than 1,000 Oklahoma civic and business leaders and public education supporters are expected to attend this year’s event, which is emceed by Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence founder and chairman David L. Boren. Jack Valenti, who led the Motion Picture Association of America for nearly 40 years, will be the keynote speaker for the banquet. In addition to being the nation’s leading motion picture industry expert, Valenti has been a wartime bomber pilot, an advertising agency founder, a political consultant and a White House special assistant to President Lyndon B. Johnson.

The public is invited to attend the banquet, which begins at 6:30 p.m. Admission is $40 per person, and reservations must be made by May 9. Reservations can be made by contacting the foundation office at (405) 236-0006.

Since 1987, 100 Oklahoma high school seniors have been selected each year by the foundation and named Academic All-Staters. This prestigious award provides each recipient with $1,500 in scholarship money, a medallion and a commemorative plaque. The 2005 Academic All-State class hails from 76 different schools in 67 Oklahoma school districts. The honorees were selected from 579 nominations in what is described by Boren as “ Oklahoma’s most rigorous academic competition.”

Once nominated, recipients are selected on the basis of academic achievement, extracurricular activities and community involvement, as well as an essay submitted by each nominee. Recipients of the award must meet one of the following criteria: an ACT score of at least 30; an SAT score of at least 1350; or be a semifinalist for National Merit, National Achievement (African American) or National Hispanic scholarships.

During the banquet, the foundation also presents the Oklahoma Medal for Excellence to three public school teachers, one each at the elementary, secondary, and college/university levels, and an administrator from the elementary or secondary level. Medals for Excellence also are awarded to an exemplary alternative education program and an outstanding local education foundation. Each medal recipient receives a $7,500 cash award as well as a glass “Roots and Wings” sculpture, created by Oklahoma artist Ron Roberts and produced by Jim Triffo of Oklahoma City. In addition, the schools of the teachers and administrator receive a $1,000 cash award.

This year’s recipients of the Oklahoma Medals for Excellence in Teaching are: Evelyn Roberts, enrichment specialist at Marshall T. Moore Elementary School (elementary), BROKEN ARROW; Deborah Cornelison, ninth-grade physical science teacher at BYNG Junior High School (secondary); and Kenneth E. Case, Regents Professor of Industrial Engineering and Management, Oklahoma State University, (college/university), STILLWATER. The winner of the Oklahoma Medal for Excellence in Administration is Marilynn Kellert, principal of Belle Isle Enterprise Middle School in OKLAHOMA CITY. VISTA Academy of MOORE will receive the alternative education award, and the BIXBY Educational Endowment Foundationwill receive the award for local education foundations.

An orchestra from the Oklahoma Arts Institute, conducted by Jonathan Shames of Norman, will provide music for the banquet. The event will be televised statewide at 8 p.m. Saturday, May 28, on OETA, the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority.

The Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence is a non-profit, charitable organization created in 1985 to recognize and encourage academic excellence in Oklahoma’s public schools. Its Academic Awards Program provides $199,000 in scholarships and cash awards annually to honor outstanding public school students and educators. The foundation provides technical support and assistance to local education foundations across the state, sponsoring the annual Fall Forum for Local Education Foundations.

Among its other initiatives, the Foundation for Excellence coordinates a program to send Oklahoma teachers to the Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute and provides scholarships for schools to receive Colonial Williamsburg Electronic Fieldtrips, bringing colonial history to life in the classroom. The foundation administers the Schusterman Mentor Program, which pairs Academic All-State alumni with academically at-risk elementary school students. It also oversees the new Teacher Scholarships for Professional Development Program, which funds continuing education opportunities for public school teachers.

For more information, contact the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence at (405) 236-0006 or visit the foundation web site at .

Brenda Wheelock,
OFE Communications Director
(405) 236-0006; e-mail