MPS Takes High Honors & Scholarships at the SOKC Chamber’s Excellence in Education Banquet

MOORE, Okla. (April 27, 2022) — Students and teachers earned high honors - including two full scholarships to Rose State College - during the annual South Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce Excellence in Education Banquet yesterday at Moore Norman Technology Center’s South Penn Campus. Thousands of dollars in scholarships for continuing education were presented throughout the evening by local bank partners, Walmart, GEICO, the Norman Regional Health System and many more.

South Lake Elementary’s Mindy Cowley earned the Public Schools Teacher of the Year out of 25 nominees from the metro area.

Rose State College Executive Director of PR and Communications and Westmoore High School graduate Dr. Bradley J. Barrick was on-hand to present two full-ride scholarships to MPS students. He expressed his admiration for each of the students’ perseverance through the personal struggles they have navigated.

Southmoore High School senior and Moore Norman Technology Center Pre-Engineering student Lilia Valerio-Weekley was selected as the MNTC Student of the Year. She’s an active member of SkillsUSA, is the National Honor Society Vice President, is a member of WHS’s Social Justice and Equality group, is the secretary of the Hispanic Club and is a member of Youth and Government. Her experiences in the Pre-Engineering program include mechanical drawing, computer programming, 3-D architectural modeling using Autodesk Revit, technical writing and working with other students on group presentations and projects. 

The 2021 Student of the Year was Moore High School senior Samantha Wilkins. She presented the 2022 Student of the Year award to Luis Orquiz. A video of her produced by MNTC was played for the audience and she expressed just how much the scholarship from the award meant to her education. She is completing her freshman year at the University of Oklahoma, where she plays flute for The Pride of Oklahoma marching band and is a music education major. She hopes to return to MPS as a music teacher in the future.  

Student of the Year nominees representing MPS are:

  • Ijahi Jackson, Moore High School
  • Elizabeth James, Southmoore High School
  • Kenny Kim, Westmoore High School 
  • Lillyana Holden, VISTA 

Scholarships presented to MPS students:

  • Walmart Scholarship, $2,500: Ijahi Jackson, Moore High School  
  • Full scholarship to Rose State College: Ijahi Jackson
  • Full scholarship to Rose State College: Lillyana Holden, VISTA
  • Future of South Oklahoma City Scholarship Sponsored by GEICO, OKC South, $5,000: Lillyana Holden, VISTA
  • The Judy Wilson Memorial Scholarship from Women of the South, $2,500: Ashley Wood, Westmoore High School

 Other Public School Teacher of the Year nominees from MPS are:

  • Cara Cummings, Apple Creek Elementary
  • Cynthia Farquhar, VISTA Academy
  • Carissa French, Sooner Elementary
  • Crystal Green, Northmoor Elementary, Moore Public Schools
  • Kerri Guarnera, Oakridge Elementary
  • Shelly Hankins, Highland East Junior High
  • Autumn Ledbetter, Heritage Trails Elementary
  • Anglea Martinez, Sky Ranch Elementary
  • Jennifer Reeves, Bryant Elementary
  • Amy Thompson, Southgate Elementary
  • Tim Torres, Houchin Elementary, Moore Public Schools
  • Janelle Valouch, Southmoore High School
  • Alicia Wilson, Broadmoore Elementary

To learn more about the SOKC Chamber of Commerce, visit