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June 30, 2005 :: State Regents Honor 56 GEAR UP Essay Contest Winners

Media Contact: Amy Bruce
Office: 1.405.225.9281

Fifty-six Oklahoma students, seven each from the fifth through 12th grade, received new Dell computers and certificates of achievement for their winning entries in the 2005 Oklahoma GEAR UP Essay Contest today during a special ceremony after the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education meeting.

The seven 12th-grade winners also received $2,000 scholarships for use at an Oklahoma college or university this fall. The computers were sponsored by Dell and Oklahoma GEAR UP.

The essay contest was conducted to celebrate the work of Oklahoma students in fifth through 12th grade who have benefited from preparing for college activities, information, materials or programs offered by GEAR UP.

“We are very proud of the impact that GEAR UP has made in Oklahoma,” said Chancellor Paul G. Risser. “More than 400 outstanding essay entries were received from students across Oklahoma who are preparing for college because the GEAR UP program has helped and encouraged them to plan for their academic futures. These students are working hard to make their educational dreams come true, and we salute all of them for their commitment to academic success.”

Students submitted an original essay of their own work, of no more than 1,000 words, describing how GEAR UP activities or information have better prepared them for college. Entries were judged by education professionals in another state on how well the student communicated an understanding of the following criteria: why it is important to go to college; how important a degree is to getting the job they want; the importance of taking challenging courses, and how they can overcome barriers (financial, social, etc.) to attending college. Essays were also judged on developmentally appropriate writing skills.

Oklahoma GEAR UP Essay Contest winners, their schools and hometowns, include:

Fifth-Grade Winners: Miranda Bray, Madill Elementary, Kingston; Abby Gelino, Remington Elementary, Tulsa; Allon Gillispie, Milfay Elementary, Milfay; Lauren Hanna, Banner Elementary School, El Reno; Sarah Manning, Banner Elementary School, Yukon; Johnathon Ridgill, Edgemere Elementary, Oklahoma City; Katherine Stephenson, Vici Elementary, Camargo.

Sixth-Grade Winners: Karrissa Alred, Tony Goetz Elementary, Muskogee; Mollie Crank, Tony Goetz Elementary, Muskogee; Felicity Harl, Altus Middle School, Altus; Stephon Henderson, Green Pastures Elementary, Spencer; Ashley Ledbetter, Tony Goetz Elementary, Muskogee; Emylee Smith, Banner Elementary School, El Reno; Marlin Smith, Banner Elementary School, Yukon.

Seventh-Grade Winners: Kendra Collins, Roblyer Middle School, El Reno; Zack Ellison, Wagoner Middle School, Wagoner; Courtney Malott, Foster Middle School, Tulsa; Anna Mason, Central Guymon Junior High, Guymon; Michelle Montgomery, Whitney Middle School, Tulsa; Dominick Praither, Central Guymon Junior High, Guymon; Wiley Wright, Central Guymon Junior High, Guymon.

Eighth-Grade Winners: Melody Cochran, Inola Public Schools, Inola; Juliet Farrell, Apache Middle School, Apache; Gurpreet Kaur, Plainview Middle School, Ardmore; Jeri Lollis, Madill Middle School, Madill; Carlos Najera, Webster Middle School, Oklahoma City; Brian Porter Jr., Yale High School, Yale; Amy Tai, Jenks Middle School, Tulsa.

Ninth-Grade Winners: Katy Bruce, Pawhuska High School, Pawhuska; Haoyu Deng, Edmond North High School, Edmond; Amy Easley, Pawhuska High School, Pawhuska; Karley Haddox, Luther High School, Luther; Tamara Hughes, Pawhuska High School, Pawhuska; Nastassia King, Chickasha High School, Verden; Ana Ledezma, Porter Consolidated High School, Porter.

10th-Grade Winners: Abigail Le, Northwest Classen High School, Oklahoma City; Cari Miller, Sequoyah High School, Claremore; Lacy McCool, Red Oak High School, Red Oak; Tracy McCool, Red Oak High School, Red Oak; Rande Patterson, Carl Albert High School, Oklahoma City; Kimberly Perrier, Owasso Mid-High, Owasso; Scott Roney, Town and Country School, Okmulgee.

11th-Grade Winners: Ashley Abbe, Walters High School, Walters; Stacy Carden, Apache High School, Lawton; Briana Croce, Moss High School, Holdenville; Ginnifer Fenwick, Northwest Classen High School, Oklahoma City; Krystal Floyd, Marietta High School, Marietta; Cory Satepauhoodle, Apache High School, Apache; Chelsea Short, Tahlequah High School, Tahlequah.

12th-Grade Winners: Katy Ellington, Pawnee High School, Pawnee; Greg Federko, Stillwater High School, Stillwater; Holt Hagy, Frederick High School, Frederick; Aurielle Hairston, Broken Arrow High School, Broken Arrow; Leslie Ketcher, Stilwell High School, Stilwell; Shonda Sherwood, Wapanucka High School, Bromide; Vincent Winston, Douglass High School, Oklahoma City.

For more information on GEAR UP, visit or call the Student Information Hotline at 800.858.1840.

The U.S. Department of Education awarded Oklahoma with a state GEAR UP grant totaling $20.5 million in August 1999. The grant has been matched by more than $25 million from state and partner resources. With the addition of year six federal funding, Oklahoma's GEAR UP program has received approximately $25 million in federal funds since 1999. GEAR UP receives 50 percent of total funding from the federal government and 50 percent from other organizations.