Forinash, Balenseifen among state's top grads

Oklahoma City - The Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence announced today the recipients of the prestigious 2005 Academic All-State Awards. These 100 top public high school seniors, selected from 579 nominations statewide, hail from 76 different schools in 67 Oklahoma school districts.

Two students in the readership area of The Boise City News qualify for the honor, Ms. Brette Forinash of Texhoma and Yarbrough High School, and Mr. Jared Balenseifen Keyes, and Keyes High School, are among the state's top 100.

These students represent the top 100 public high school seniors in the state. They will be honored May 21 at the foundation's Academic Awards Banquet at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City. The event will be televised statewide on OETA.

The 2005 Academic All-State Class is the 19th to be selected by the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence. Since the award program's inception in 1987, some 1,900 high school seniors from 277 school districts have been named All-State scholars. Each of this year's All-Staters will receive a $1,500 scholarship, a medallion and a commemorative plaque. The All-Staters will be recognized at the Foundation's annual Academic Awards Banquet on Saturday, May 21, at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City.

David L. Boren, chairman and founder of the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence, describes the selection of the scholars as “Oklahoma's most rigorous academic competition.” To be nominated for Academic All-State, students must meet one of the following criteria: American College Test (ACT) score of at least 30, Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) score of at least 1350, National Merit semifinalist, National Achievement (African American) semifinalist, or National Hispanic Scholar Awards semifinalist. This year's All-Staters scored an average of 32.9 on the ACT and an average of 1453 on the SAT. One student scored a perfect 36 on the ACT, while three made top scores of 1600 on the SAT. In addition, 44 of this year's All-Staters are National Merit semifinalists, one is a National Achievement award semifinalist, and one is a National Hispanic semifinalist.

Most Academic All-State nominees are in the top 1 percent academically of all Oklahoma public high school seniors, which makes the selection process very competitive. 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.

The selection committee, which is chaired by Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice Marian P. Opala, works independently of all other foundation activities. The committee members are a diverse group of business, education and civic leaders. Academic All-State alumni and former Medal for Excellence winners also sit on the selection committee.

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 renowned Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute and provides scholarships for schools to receive Colonial Williamsburg Electronic Field Trips, bringing early American history to life in the classroom. The foundation also administers the Schusterman Mentor Program, which pairs Academic All-State alumni with academically at-risk elementary school students, and oversees the new Teacher Scholarships for Professional Development Program, which funds continuing education opportunities for public school teachers.

Boise City News
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