OETA broadcast of Academic Awards Banquet to honor best in public education   

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2019 Oklahoma Academic All-Staters take the stage with keynote speaker and former astronaut Leland Melvin (center) during the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence 33rd Academic Awards Banquet. The awards ceremony, which honors Oklahoma’s top public school educators and students, will premiere statewide on public television at 8 p.m. Saturday on OETA.

Five outstanding Oklahoma educators and 100 of the state’s top public high school seniors will be recognized when OETA premieres its statewide broadcast of the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence 33rd Academic Awards Banquet at 8 p.m. Saturday.

Keynote speaker Leland Melvin, a former Space Shuttle astronaut and NFL football player, will also be featured in the program. The broadcast will air on OETA Channel 13 in the Oklahoma City area 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 18 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 Tulsa television news anchor Scott Thompson, a trustee of the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence.

The awards ceremony recognizes 100 public high school seniors from throughout the state as Academic All-Staters.

Also honored are this year’s recipients of Oklahoma Medal for Excellence Awards: Elementary Teaching recipient Catherine Adams, a school counselor who teaches social-emotional learning at Piedmont Elementary School; Secondary Teaching winner Michelle Churchwell, an English teacher at Eisenhower High School, Lawton; Elementary/Secondary Administration recipient Dr. Rick Cobb, superintendent, Mid-Del Public Schools; Regional University/Community College Teaching winner Dr. Wayne Lord, professor of biology and forensic science, University of Central Oklahoma, Edmond; and Research University Teaching honoree Dr. Keith Strevett, David Ross Boyd Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Oklahoma, Norman.

Bios of this year’s honored students and educators are available online at ofe.org.

The broadcast will include Melvin’s keynote address, “Moments in Silence,” in which he recounts the setbacks he faced as an athlete and astronaut and how he overcame challenges to ultimately help construct the International Space Station during Space Shuttle Missions in 2008 and 2009.

Melvin later became associate administrator for education for NASA and co-chair of the White House Federal Coordination in STEM Education Task Force. He has made frequent television appearances, including serving as host of the Lifetime television series “Child Genius,” and is the author of “Chasing Space: An Astronaut’s Story of Grit, Grace and Second Chances.”

A link to the broadcast will be available in June on the foundation website at ofe.org. DVDs of the awards ceremony can be purchased for $12 each after June 1. For more information, contact the foundation office at 405-236-0006.