, Muskogee, OK

March 29, 2013

‘Drug Free Style,’ students winners

By Cathy Spaulding
Phoenix Staff Writer

— Forget “Gangnam Style,” Tony Goetz Elementary School sixth-graders are going “Drug Free Style.”

Tony Goetz students put an anti-drug twist on PSY’s mega-viral video, “Gangnam Style,” and took top honors at the Muskogee Public Schools’ 2013 Character Recognition Banquet. The school’s video was named the best of nine video finalists honored Thursday night at the banquet. It also won the Fourth through Sixth-Grade Category.

Sixth-grader Nikaury Ruffin said winning the award “feels amazing and good.”

“We’re proud of ourselves,” Nikaury said. “We practiced really hard. We took it seriously.”

Classmate Kimberly Acevedo said video participants “took off lunch and recess just to practice.”

Students and schools throughout the district were honored for all sorts of character traits Thursday night.

“Muskogee Public Schools bring honor to the city again and again and again,” Mayor Bob Coburn said. “Now, schools are calling Muskogee to see how to be a school of character.”

The banquet recognized winners and finalists in three video categories. Whittier Elementary third-graders won the Kindergarten through Third-Grade category with “Run, Run.” Alice Robertson Junior High won for a “Stand for the Silent” video.

Winners of the 2012 Poster Contest were Destiny Bias of Whittier; Hayes Ericson of Creek Elementary; Rachel Throgmorton of Sadler Arts Academy and Frances O’Callaghan, a former Whittier student who now attends St. Joseph Catholic School.

Two students from each Muskogee school received Character Awards.

Pershing Elementary sixth-grader Kalei Jackson said she did not know just what character trait made her a recipient at her school. Her teachers and parents knew, however.

“When we asked all the teachers what girl best exemplified character at Pershing, it was almost unanimous it was her,” video production teacher Debbie Young said about Kalei.

Young praised Kalei’s personality and discipline.

“She makes the right choices,” Young said.

“She’s very hospitable,” said Kalei’s mother, Tahesha Jackson. “She’ll do almost anything for anybody. She’s very generous.”

Bradan O’Dell of Muskogee High School said the character trait he showed was honesty.

His mother, Melissa O’Dell, agreed.

“If anything happens to Bradan, he would be the first to let me know,” she said.

Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or