<i>The Pencil, The Promise and The Pay Off</i>

Crown Bristow and Primeaux Kia

STUDENT’S REWARD: It was my pleasure to award Michelle Lynn McGehee $500 after she finished her degree from the University of Arkansas. Ten years ago I told students at Verdigris Middle School that if they brought back a pencil I gave them that day with their college diploma, I would award them $500. So far three students have collected, and I’m looking forward to more!

There are times in a businessman’s life that are truly rewarding. The story that I am going to relate to you is one of those times that has brought joy to my life. In 1997 I was invited to speak to an assembly of middle school students at the public school in Verdigris, a small rural community in northeast Oklahoma.
The talk was a motivational one that I have given many times to encourage kids to remain in school, finish high school and then to go on to higher education.

During the course of my talk I posed the questions to the small group of students gathered as to how many thought that they would certainly go on to college or how many just thought it was a possibility. Of that group 12 students raised their hands. Now keep in mind some were positive and some of these pre-teens only hoped to get to college. I had some pencils in my briefcase that were advertisements for my dealership. I reached inside my briefcase and gave each of those 12 students a pencil and a verbal promise. I told them that if they saved the pencil, got a degree and then returned to visit me with their diploma and the pencil, I would give each of them $500.

Just last month Michelle Lynn McGehee visited me with her diploma from the University of Arkansas with the shiny blue pencil that I had given her ten years ago. Michelle is the third student from Verdigris Middle School so far who has collected the $500.

Michelle graduated from high school in Catoosa, Okla. in the top 5 percent of her class and went on to the University of Arkansas on a Chancellor’s scholarship.

Michelle originally thought her major would be chemistry but later changed and received a Bachelor of Science degree in biology. She has hopes of working in pharmaceutical sales and furthering her education either with a second degree or a master’s degree. Michelle will be getting married in June to Wain Ryel who is employed by UPS.

Parents, it really does matter who your kids “run with” and the proof is that one of Michelle’s good friends from middle school, Emily Warren, collected her $500 a few months ago. Emily is a graduate of University of Central Oklahoma and received her degree in nursing.

But now a little more about “The Pencil.” Michelle tells the story that the pencil has been kept safe all these years in Grandpa’s safe deposit box. The pencil kept her motivated in tough times and especially in her final year when finances were strained. She owed money to school and somehow managed to relieve that debt so she could graduate knowing that there would be a bonus for her in the end.

What I did ten years ago was a spur of the moment decision. It was a gesture that had an impact on at least three young people. Hopefully in the coming years I will see more of these former middle school students coming in with their college diploma and their pencil.

In our world of quick gratification and easy fixes for everything, our young people need your encouragement and your support to stay in school, to do well and ultimately to feel the rewards of working hard and reaching a successful goal. You don’t have to give out pencils or $500; you only need to care and show it.

Chamber Leadership
The greater Tulsa area will enjoy great leadership in 2007 with Chet Cadieux as chairman of the board of directors of the Tulsa Metro Chamber. He succeeds Steve Turnbo, who did a great job. Chet is the chairman, chief executive officer and president of QuikTrip Corporation. He assumed his chairmanship at the Chamber’s annual meeting January 11 at the Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center.
Speaking of the Chamber, we are happy to have Mike Neal as the president and CEO. Mike came here from Nashville, but he is a native of Louisiana, which means one thing for sure: he knows his food!

Who Dat? Da Saints!
I’m excited to be attending my hometown New Orleans Saints playoff game Sunday, Jan. 21 in Chicago with the Bears. It is the first time I will have seen the Saints since Hurricane Katrina. By the time you read this, we will know who will go on to play either the Colts or Patriots in the Super Bowl. Go Drew Brees and go Saints!

Hurricane Warning
Congratulations to the University of Tulsa for hiring the popular Todd Graham as its new head football coach. Todd is putting together a great coaching staff, and we look forward to seeing the Hurricane’s new wide open offense next season.

Talons Schedule, Tryouts
The Tulsa Talons will open the indoor football season at home against the Everett Hawks on March 31. The regular season 16-game schedule ends at home on July 28 with South Georgia. Please see the entire schedule on page 21 of this issue. The Talons will hold a tryout at East Central High School Feb. 3. Please call the Talons office at (918) 294-1000 for more information.

Come and Visit!
Our Primeaux KIA dealership continues to be number one in the region and Crown Bristow remains a five-star dealership. Come on down to 4747 South Yale, or drive over to Crown Bristow and give us a visit. We’ll beat any deal!

Updated 01-23-2007

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