Students who take pride in their penmanship can enter the 18th annual Zaner-Bloser National Handwriting Contest.
The contest is open to elementary school and middle school school students and nearly 200,000 are expected to enter. The contest tests the printing skills of first and second grade students and cursive skills of students in grades first through eight.
State and national awards are given and a grand national winner is chosen from the national winners. Prizes include computers and savings bonds.
Entries are due by March 1. For more information go to www.zaner-bloser.com/NationalHandwritingContest.
Here is the weekly column of State schools superintendent Sandy Garrett.
Before we close the chapter on 2008, let’s look back on the progress made by schools amid the economic challenges that affect us all.
We began this year with the release of the annual Quality Counts report by Education Week. Oklahoma again ranked 10th nationally in teacher quality and 13th best in academic, testing and accountability standards.
January also brought news of nearly 1,750 teachers from 63 schools receiving bonus checks ranging from $500 to $3,000 as part of the Academic Achievement Awards program, funded by the state Legislature and based on Academic Performance Index scores for each school.
In March, Oklahoma was again ranked No. 1 in the nation for its pre-kindergarten programs by the National Institute for Early Education Research. The state also reached a milestone in 2008 by being the only state to offer voluntary, universal pre-kindergarten programs for its 4-year-olds for a decade.
During the spring, the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education reported the second-lowest college-remediation rate of high school graduates in the past 10 years. This means progress is being made in better preparing students for college and the world of work. Further proof came when we had a record number of high schools students achieve the status of Oklahoma Academic Scholar. This year brought the highest number of scholars since the standards for this honor were placed in state law in 1986.
Test scores improved again this year, and the state average API score increased 27 points compared to 2007. This was 279 points higher than it was in the benchmark year of 2002.
In May, “The Nation’s Report Card” released the details of a study that documented the success of Oklahoma’s American Indian students on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Once again, we saw that Oklahoma’s Native American students rank above their peers in other states.
This summer, I presented my annual State of Education Address on quality instructional time and technology to engage students as key components to improving Oklahoma schools. These two efforts increase each educator’s ability to raise student achievement and, at the same time, raise graduation rates.
This month, our state gained 324 new National Board Certified teachers.
Oklahoma is now ranked 5th in the nation for the percentage of its teaching force – nearly 6 percent – that are nationally certified. Our state is 10th nationally in the total number of teachers with this prestigious credential.
Education is certainly the foundation of our democracy and still plays a critical role in the economic development of our state and America. While much has changed in this system over the years, the importance and need to educate every person remains the same.
Thanks to the hard work and determination of students, their families and school faculties, Oklahoma schools made progress in 2008. We look forward to even more success in 2009.
With all the reform in school cafeterias lately, students may have heard a lot of adults’ about school lunches. MeetMeAtTheCorner.org is having a contest to see what students think would make the perfect lunch.
Students ages 7 to 12 can enter the contest by creating their own lunch recipe. Students must send in a list of ingredients and directions for making the meal by Jan. 31. The meal can be hot or cold, their own invention or an interpretation of something they’ve seen elsewhere.
Winners will receive the book “Everybody Eats Lunch” and a one-year subscription to Kiwi magazine.
I wonder if anyone will enter a peanut butter and gummy worm sandwich. Happy cooking!
-Staff Writer Dawn Marks
Oklahoma City University officials created a new emergency scholarship fund titled You’re a Name, Not a Number.
The scholarship will be used to assist students who be unable to enroll for the spring semester due to financial problems.
Any student facing hardship due to the economic recession is eligible to apply for assistance and will be evaluated on an individual basis.
“We are partners with our students and their parents and we share their commitment to education. OCU has for many years insisted that here, students are names and not numbers, and this is a tremendous way for us to demonstrate what we mean when we say that,” OCU President Tom McDaniel said in a news release.
University officials created this fund and launched other initiatives to help students such as the development of more job opportunities for students on campus, increasing fundraising efforts for scholarships and endowment, and mandating cost cutting procedures across campus.
Donations for the scholarship fund can be sent to Sandy Cotton, senior director of development, at 2501 N. Blackwelder, Oklahoma City, OK 73106 or email@example.com.
For more information, call 208-5848.
Something happened on my husband’s way to his college graduation. It took him almost 30 years to get there. Right out of Blanchard High School, my husband enrolled at Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Durant. He wasn’t ready for college and college wasn’t ready for him, so he changed course and signed up with the U.S. Air Force.
He did basic training in San Antonio, Texas, a stint in Guam and served at various bases stateside and found himself in harm’s way during several deployments, in particular to Somalia in 1993 and Iraq in 2004. Somewhere along the way, he met and married a wonderful woman. He also managed to take some college classes, but would often have to drop them because of a deployment.
When he retired, 26 years later, he was within a year or two of earning his bachelor’s degree. After paying $140 he still owed for 1979 cafeteria and dorm fees, he was able to enroll at SOSU. It’s hard to believe that balance was still on the books almost 30 years later. I wonder if it would have been still been there if the school owed him money.
This past Saturday, after many nights of classes, research papers, power point presentations and only one trip to the emergency room for stress and anxiety, my husband marched down with the 2008 fall graduating class and received his diploma. He was a little grayer than he was in 1979, but a lot wiser.
It was a nice day and a proud moment for his whole family, including his teenage son, when the first speaker began his opening remarks about a graduate who got sidetracked on the way to graduation.
Oklahoma GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) has awarded 12 subgrants totaling $152,000 to Oklahoma community- and faith-based organizations to help students and families prepare for college through programs that provide access to financial aid, localized mentoring and tutoring services, college campus tours, individualized counseling and academic planning.
The subgrantees are the Community Action Project of Tulsa County; the Community Service Council of Greater Tulsa; the Greater Oklahoma City Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; St. John Christian Care Center, Oklahoma City; Fellowship of Women in Christ, Ada; Building a Nation Through Village Concepts, Oklahoma City; the Norman Economic Development Coalition; Prospect Missionary Baptist Church, Oklahoma City; Vertical Life Initiatives, Tulsa; the Believers in Boswell Community Coalition; and the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Theta Upsilon Omega Chapter, Lawton. The subgrantees will work with community partners to expand programs and services that help raise college aspirations and encourage student participation in Oklahoma’s Promise.
Oklahoma GEAR UP, a federally funded program administered by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, awarded the grants through the Raising College Aspirations Community- and Faith-Based Organization (CBO) Incentive Grant Program. The main objective for all subgrantees is to facilitate enrollment in Oklahoma’s Promise, a scholarship program that allows high school students from families whose annual income is $50,000 or less and who meet certain academic and conduct requirements to earn free college tuition.
For more information on GEAR UP or Oklahoma’s Promise, visit www.okhighered.org or call 800.858.1840.
(from left) Madeline Baugher, of NASA Space Grant program, Steve Stone and SWOSU assistant professor Doug Linder.
Steve Stone, a sophomore at Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford, was recently awarded a NASA scholarship for his research in the area of disease states. Stone is a chemistry and math major from Nacoma
The main goal of the research is to further study a group of zinc containing hydrolytic enzymes called the matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs). These MMPs have been implicated in a host of disease states, including cardiovascular disease, arthritis and cancer.
Through studies, Stone said it is hoped to learn more of how to inhibit these particular enzymes so as to limit the damages they cause. In particular, using computational quantum chemical techniques, the influence of the active site zinc geometry on the catalytic mechanism of action will be studied. Small models of the zinc active site will be constructed, energies will be calculated, and the results will be analyzed to determine how and to what extent changes in the zinc active site geometry (bond angles and lengths) influence the catalytic properties of the enzyme.
“With these results, we hope to establish a new paradigm to develop effective enzymeinhibitors,” Stone said. SWOSU is a member of the NASA Oklahoma Space Grant Consortium, which provides scholarship funds for students in science and technology areas at member institutions. SWOSU matches these funds with an equivalent amount of its own.
All scholarship awardees are required to volunteer 10 hours of their time to either the Stafford Air and Space
The grant principle investigator is Madeline Baugher, faculty member in the SWOSU Department of Entrepreneurship and Computer Systems. Students may submit research proposals for a spring funding cycle until January 31, 2009. A description of the program and an application may be found at http://www.swosu.edu/academics/compsci/nasagrant.asp
Oklahoma City design, housing and merchandising junior, Stephanie Michalko’s weave of orange, black, gray and white threads received the most votes for her original tartan plaid design in on-line balloting.
In September OSU students who had completed a course in textiles were eligible for the competition to design an original plaid that reflects the OSU spirit. Four finalists were selected and voting began in October.
Michalko said she was excited to have her design chosen. “I am an interior design major, but I am very interested in textiles and their use in interior design,” Michalko said. “This was a great experience to be able to apply what I have learned.”
College of Human Environmental Sciences professors Paulette Hebert and Lynne Richards directed the competition.
“We felt this would be a meaningful way design, housing and merchandising students could learn how a product is developed from the idea to the creation,” Hebert said.
Pendleton stadium blankets and scarves will be the first items produced using the OSU Tartan. Judy Barnard, OSU director of trademarks and licensing, who assisted with the project, expects a number of products from stationery to kilts to be available soon in the plaid.
The OSU plaid will be registered with the Scottish Tartans World Register in Scotland and Ireland where tartans are used to identify families the OSU Tartan will be another sign of membership in the OSU family.
It’s the time of year that schools get very busy right before the hush of Christmas break.
Many students are practicing for winter programs through their school bands, orchestras, choirs, drama groups and elementary classes.
I’ll never forget my fourth-grade program, “The North Pole Goes Rock-n-Roll.” I was a poodle-skirt-wearing elf, and I had one line, which I can’t remember. Although I didn’t go on to star on Broadway, I thought I was a star at the time, and my family did too.
Students work very hard on these programs, and they’re some of the best and cheapest entertainment around.
The Norman School District has a fine arts Web site that lists all of the activities going on at district schools. Visit http://www.norman.k12.ok.us/fpa/CPA.htm to find out more.
Jennifer Griswold, staff writer
Oklahoma City University will have its fall commencement ceremony at 4 p.m. Dec. 19 in the university’s wellness center, 2501 N Blackwelder.
Heather Sparks will be the featured speaker. Sparks is the 2009 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year recipient and an OCU graduate. She teaches mathematics at Taft Middle School.
In 2007, she received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.
Also during the commencement, Jacque Fiegel and Cathy Leichter will be given the Oklahoma Servant Leader Award.
Fiegel is president of the university’s alumni association and Leichter volunteered with various fundraising projects.