The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

May 11, 2013

Turnaround winners honored

By Dale Denwalt, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — Three of the six Enid-area students who earned honors for turning around their academics and behavior accepted their awards Saturday morning.

The three, cheered on by their families and school mentors, received a plaque at the Turnaround Achievement Awards Breakfast, which was held at Oakwood Country Club.

Presenter Jim Tate thanked his father, Jack, for imagining the award 20 years ago.

“He saw a good idea, and he made it happen here in Enid. We’re thankful for that,” Tate said.

Tate made an impromptu keynote of the event because the scheduled speaker had to cancel. In his speech, he called on the students to remain cognizant of their turnaround.

“I want you to ask yourself two questions whenever you come to a decision: Is it good for me? Is it good for others?” he asked. “The people that are here today probably did this, whether they knew it or not. They decided that they were going to do things better.”

Six students turn around

Those in attendance were Alex Vasquez of Longfellow Middle School, David Linder from Chisholm High School and Hunter Scott of Covington-Douglas.

The students who could not attend notified the breakfast organizers they would be absent. They were Mathew Block, Enid; Jaime Ponce, Emerson Middle School; and Richard Hardage, Lincoln Academy.

Vasquez’ teacher Ashley Cooper said when she first met him, the youth bluntly told her he wouldn’t be writing any essays. She replied that he’d never had a teacher quite like her.

“He probably wrote 10 essays this year,” she beamed.

Katie Byrd presented Linder’s award.

“I’ve seen such a change in him since he was first in my class,” Byrd said. “His confidence has skyrocketed.”

Linder graduated from high school Friday.

Scott’s award was prefaced by Brian Smith, who said the boy made leaps and bounds this year.

“A year ago, he didn’t care about school. He didn’t care about doing his work,” Smith said. “It’s nothing I did, or nothing his tutor did – it was something he did and he changed how he approached school and life.”

Everyone gets in a rut, Tate told the crowd.

“We start heading in one direction, and it seems like that’s the way it is. But we have to make a decision – are we going to stay in this rut because it’s the easy thing to do?” he said.

Tate gave an example from his own life. He was bowling one day, playing in the last lane. His roll missed the mark and he reacted by punching the wall next to him, breaking his hand.

“I was really going to show that wall,” he said. “I was headed the wrong way. I was stuck in a rut. And unfortunately, it took something like that to point out to my stubborn head, ‘Don’t do that anymore.’”

He still admits to having a temper, “but I haven’t hit any walls lately,” Tate said.

The Turnaround Awards were sponsored by Oakwood Bowl, Enid News & Eagle, Ward Petroleum, Conrady Electric, Rusco Plastics and AE Howard.