Opportunities seem endless in the eyes of Muskogee High School sophomore Blake Simmons.
He plans to attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He said his father and grandfather were in the military, then worked in law enforcement.
Simmons said he does not plan on a law enforcement career, “but I want to be in a position where I can support law enforcement.”
Instead of law enforcement, Simmons said he seeks a career in public service.
“After I get those leadership traits and discipline skills in the Army at West Point, I see myself running for U.S. Senate or governor a while after that, maybe a higher office,” he said.
He also envisions owning his own company.
At 16, he already has made strides toward these goals.
Simmons said he has been interested in politics since the seventh and eighth grade. He said he has corresponded with every living president.
He said he got a letter and photo last January from the 41st President, George H.W. Bush, who died in December.
“The only one who hasn’t gotten back to me with a letter is Obama,” he said, adding that he plans on framing the letters he received from Carter, Clinton, Trump and both Bushes.
Simmons also has met Vice President Mike Pence.
As president of Muskogee High School Young Republicans, Simmons got then-candidate Kevin Stitt to speak at MHS last fall. Earlier this month, Simmons managed to see Stitt inaugurated as Oklahoma governor. Simmons now is working with state and city officials to have Stitt tour Muskogee.
“Hopefully, it will open up a lot of opportunities for us,” Simmons said.
The teen sees value in public service.
“Politics is being involved in the community,” he said. “There’s always many problems in the community. Politics is coming up with solutions that benefit the community.”
Making most of
Blake Simmons went to Stitt’s inauguration with the Muskogee High School Young Republicans Club and debate students.
“It was really cool experience. It was the first inauguration I went to,” Simmons said. “When I was going through security at the capitol, Kevin Stitt walked by, and I had a chance to talk to him before the inauguration.”
He said the group got good seats in front. They also got to go inside the capitol and see former governors.
“It was a really cool experience to watch it first-hand, because it was a really big election, dealing with education and the education walkout last year,” he said. “It was really cool listening to him speak.”
Simmons said he stayed in Oklahoma City after the other MHS students left. He recalled visiting with newly elected State Rep. Chris Sneed, R-Fort Gibson.
He also got a chance to dress up and attend the inaugural ball. Simmons said he paid $250 for a ticket. He said he was told one reason for the expense was so inaugural event planners could make other inaugural festivities free to the public.
“I got to see the governor again,” he said. “I got to meet the lieutenant governor.”
An eye for
Even with political ambitions, Blake Simmons said he’s “an entrepreneur at heart.”
“I can see myself owning my own company,” he said. “But I also see myself as a public servant.”
Simmons recalled using his business skills to help with recent political campaigns.
“Not as a consulting firm, but as a political service company,” he said, adding that his work included designing logos and calling people.
“Right now, one thing I like to do — and this benefits local businesses — I find something online from a direct manufacturer, buy that product in bulk then I’ll go to a Muskogee store and put it on sale there,” he said.
He said he sees himself as “kind of a middleman.”
“I’m buying it from a producer,” he said. “I’m selling it in a Muskogee store getting the money from sales, but the money also goes to a local business for letting me sell that item in their store.”
Simmons said he’s been doing it for about a year and sells mostly at Toby’s Pit Stop. He works part time at the store.
He said his latest venture involves rose-shaped items that dissolve in bath water.
for his future
Simmons already is working toward his goal of attending West Point.
“Most members of my family have served in the Army,” he said. “And I feel a calling to serve in the military as well. West Point is the best route in the military to go.”
High school sports and leadership activities are part of that preparation.
“I started track to get myself physically prepared for college,” he said.
He said he began workouts earlier this semester. He said the tough workouts have involved lifting weights, doing squats, bench presses. He said full track practice will begin in February.
“I’m not used to an hour and a half running, working out,” he said. “But I’m glad, because it’s getting me mentally and physically prepared for my future.”
Simmons also is active in the MHS student council and other activities.
“There has been times where I’d be at the school from 6:30 a.m. to midnight,” he said. “There would be various things going on.”
He is on Dr. Jarod Mendenhall’s superintendent’s advisory council.
“We meet every two months. When we get together, we talk about the problems the school faces and solutions,” he said. “We talk about changes that can be made to make it a better environment.”
HOW DID YOU COME TO BE AN OKIE FROM MUSKOGEE?
“I was born and raised here in Muskogee. I just love the town, love the community. Some place I’ve always wanted to get back to. A lot of people see problems, but I see solutions.”
WHAT DO YOU LIKE BEST ABOUT MUSKOGEE?
“The community. It’s like a family with people relying on each other.”
WHAT WOULD MAKE MUSKOGEE A BETTER PLACE TO LIVE?
“We have great leadership here. Getting more involved, definitely. Getting people out to vote. In the election before last, there wasn’t really a lot of voter participation, so I can see that definitely improving. Just getting more people involved with the community.”
WHAT PERSON IN MUSKOGEE DO YOU ADMIRE MOST?
“That’s a tough one. I admire a lot of people here. Probably John Tyler Hammons. I met him a couple of years ago, and he was really the first person I talked to going into the political world. His dedication to Muskogee and working in his own law firm. Really, there are too many people here to mention.”
WHAT IS THE MOST MEMORABLE THING TO HAPPEN TO YOU IN MUSKOGEE?
“Probably when we brought Kevin Stitt here. I’m really glad we did that because it got the community involved. With this event, the Kevin Stitt meet-and-greet, people got to ask questions to find out who they wanted for their next governor.”
WHAT DO YOU DO IN YOUR SPARE TIME?
“Mostly play the piano, look for different ways that I can help the community, like, with this Stitt tour of Muskogee; hang out with friends and family; track.”
HOW WOULD YOU SUM UP MUSKOGEE IN 25 WORDS OR LESS?
“Muskogee is a unique place. We are a small town with big city problems. I’m proud to be an Okie from Muskogee.”
Meet Blake Simmons
EDUCATION: Attended school at Hilldale, Glenpool, Fort Gibson and Muskogee. Muskogee High sophomore.
PROFESSION: Entrepreneur. Works part time at Toby’s Pit Stop.
FAMILY: Father, Andy Simmons; Mother, Becky Barnhart. Sister, Skylar Simmons; half sister Brooke.
CHURCH: Life Church, Tulsa.
HOBBIES: “I’m so busy I don’t have too much time to do stuff. I play piano. I like to be with my friends and family.”