Southeastern News

Southeastern sophomore lends voice to historical presidential visit

Elissa Hamil sings the national anthem prior to President Obama’s speech. (Photo courtesy of Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma)

Elissa Hamil sings the national anthem prior to President Obama’s speech.
(Photo courtesy of Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma)

DURANT, Okla. –Elissa Hamil doesn’t follow the start-at-the-bottom-and-work-your-way-up format.

The 19-year-old Southeastern Oklahoma State University sophomore was selected to sing the national anthem when president Barack Obama spoke at Durant High School on July 15. The President was in Durant to announce the establishment of ConnectHome, a new initiative with communities, the private sector, and federal government working to expand high speed broadband to more families across the country. The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, Southeastern, and Durant Public Schools will be among the groups partnering on the project.

Hamil, who is Choctaw, was asked to send a video to the White House and she was chosen through a competitive process. While she sang at home, her father used his cellphone to tape it.

She says she wasn’t nervous at the Presidential event, even though it was the first time she had performed the Star-Spangled Banner, at least publicly. Elissa learned the words to the anthem in kindergarten and has been in a choir since the sixth grade.

“I wouldn’t sing it in high school,” Elissa said. “There was too much pressure, singing in front of your peers.”

Peers, no – President of the United States – no problem.

Hamil said she was a little nervous while behind the stage, but everything went well when it was her turn in the spotlight.

“I learned that prayer goes a long way,” Hamil said. “When I went out to sing, I just sort of blacked out. I believe God took over and helped me through the


She didn’t see the president prior to singing, since she was behind the stage and he went from a helicopter to the stage.

Hamil was an honors graduate at Durant High, where she was an All-District singer for four years.

She is now a member of Southeastern’s University Singers.

The biology major plans to become an optometrist and her studies require most of her time. She received the Southeastern Alumni Scholarship and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma Higher Education Scholarship.

Elissa credits her parents – Kevin and Jamie — family and friends for supporting her throughout her DHS career and now her Southeastern career.

Lt. Gov. Lamb guest speaker at Tri-County event

Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb offers remarks to the crowd Tuesday night.

Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb offers remarks to the crowd Tuesday night.

DURANT, Okla. – The Tri-County Honors Program, co-sponsored by First United Bank and Southeastern Oklahoma State University, was held Tuesday in the Visual and Performing Arts Center on the Durant campus.

The event opened with a reception, followed by the honors award ceremony.

Lt. Governor Todd Lamb was the guest speaker.

Greg Massey, Chief Executive Officer of First United Bank, and Southeastern Vice President for Academic Affairs Douglas McMillan offered remarks.

Dean of Enrollment Management Liz McCraw introduced school administrators, who then introduced the honorees from their respective schools.

Assisting in the awards presentation were First United Bank Presidents and Officers Bert Davison, Durant (President); Kathy Fuller, Hugo (Assistant Vice President); Debby Boyd, Calera (Vice President); Chris Earthman, Colbert (President); Rick Lane, Madill (President); and Justin Behrens, Bokchito (Vice President).

Following is a list of students honored by school:

This group of students from Durant High School was honored at the Tri-County event.

This group of students from Durant High School was honored at the Tri-County event.

Achille – Madison Stanglin, Paige Hutchings, Makala Womack, Tyler Gibby.

Bennington – Crystal Tate, Erica Noland.

Boswell – Tanner Manous, Brittany Wells, Tracy Lee Brown, Brenna Poe.

Caddo – Virgle Mincher, Shelby Dellinger, Aaron Purkins, Tobi Miller.

Calera – Rachel Childers, Connor Hamilton, Riggin Rogers.

Colbert – Payton Whitehead, Maddison Poteet, Ethan Williams, Samantha Richardson.

Durant  — Sierra Downs, Will Engle, Brittany Farmer, Gabrielle Ford, Emily Franzeo, Kristen Gooch, Kaley Green, Elissa Hamil, Matthew Harris, Darren Jernigan, Rheagan Jones, Gabriel Louis, Caroline Loyd, Sydni McKaughan, Shalleigh Powell, Zachary Taylor, Brittany Trent, Katlyn Wigington, Jared Woods, Landry Wright.

Fort Towson – Alyssa Chandler, Charles Tillman, William Sossamon, Tiara Good.

Hugo – Kelli Stacy, Victoria Wyatt, Colton Coffey, Amaney Jackson, Michaela Ellis.

Hugo Kiamichi Technology Center – Shannon Bivins, Dimehlia Adamson, Macy Maxwell.

Durant Kiamichi Technology Center – Brett Massey, Jonathan Harper, Matthew Scott, Katelynn Todd.

Kingston – Dalton Williams, Benjamin Whipkey.

Madill – Megan Mockerman, Joshua NeeSmith, Marshall Scott, Brenna Green.

Rock Creek – Brittany Anderson, Dakota Holloway, Trevor Iams, Krislan Winnett.

Silo – Jordan Carter, Baylee Rogers, Kayti Townsend, Casey Love, Hannah Bourne, Ashlee Impson, Leonard Sandler, Katlyn Halley.

Soper – Paige Grammar, Chance Scott, Eduardo Rubio, Samantha Wolfenbarger.

Victory Life Academy – Amber Bruce, Kevin Covington, Seth Bennett, Marella Smith.

Winners announced in Curriculum Contest


Students competed in a number of events Thursday at the 101st Curriculum Contest at Southeastern Oklahoma State University.

DURANT, Okla. – Southeastern Oklahoma State University hosted the 101st edition of the Oklahoma Inter-High School Curriculum Contest on Thursday.

Dr. James Britton, Professor in the Chemistry, Computer and Physical Sciences Department, served as director of the event.

The contest involved more than 1,600 students from 68 area high schools, who participated in 41 contests with trophies and medals presented to winning schools and individuals.

Exams covered numerous subjects, including art, accounting, speech, journalism, literature, drama, modern languages, mathematics, science, English, social science, music, and computers.

The winning schools, by division, are listed below:

Division 1

1.    Kiowa Public Schools

2.    Coleman High School

3.    Smithville High School

Division 2

1.    Latta High School

2.    Rock Creek High School

3.    Silo Public Schools

Division 3

1.    Plainview High School

2.    Dickson High School

3.    Lone Grove High School

Division 4

1.    Durant High School

2.    McAlester High School

3.    Ardmore High School


Winners announced at Curriculum Contest

DURANT, Okla. – Southeastern Oklahoma State University hosted the 100th-annual Curriculum Contest Thursday.

Exams covered numerous subjects, including mathematics, science, English, foreign languages, fine arts and computers. The winning schools, by division, are listed below:

The computer lab was the site of several contests Thursday.

The computer lab was the site of several contests Thursday.

Students participate in the art competition Thursday at the Curriculum Contest.

Students participate in the art competition Thursday at the Curriculum Contest.








Division 1

  1. Kiowa High School
  2. Smithville High School
  3. Coleman High School

Division 2

  1. Latta High School
  2. Calera High School
  3. Haworth High School

Division 3

  1. Plainview High School
  2. Dickson High School
  3. Lone Grove High School

Division 4

  1. Durant High School
  2. Broken Bow High School
  3. Ardmore High School

Southeastern Symphonic Winds presents “Wind Band Classics” on Sept. 27

DURANT, Okla. – The Southeastern Symphonic Winds – Southeastern Oklahoma State University’s premier instrumental ensemble – opens its 2012-2013 concert season with a program entitled “Wind Band Classics” on Thursday, September 27. The performance begins at 6 p.m. on the front lawn of the university.

The program is an audience-friendly pops style concert in the vein of outdoor concerts performed by the Sousa Band near the turn of the 20th century, and is presented in association with Southeastern’s Homecoming festivities, which run September 27-29.

“This concert is a potpourri of musical styles and influences,” said Director of Bands Dr. Jacob Wallace. “We’ll hear famous transcriptions, classic works for band, and – of course – several marches.”

The program will also welcome Chris Gregg – Director of Bands at Durant High School and a Southeastern alumnus – as a guest conductor.

“Mr. Gregg is an outstanding representative of the quality musical education that we offer at Southeastern,” Wallace said. “He has continued and expanded upon a real tradition of excellence in the Durant High School music program, and has always been an avid supporter of the music program here at Southeastern. We are truly fortunate to count him among our many talented and supportive alums.”

Works on the program include John Williams’ Summon the Heroes, Aaron Copland’s An Outdoor Overture, Howard Hanson’s Chorale and Alleluia, Vincent Persichetti’s Pageant, John Philip Sousa’s The Stars and Stripes Forever, and Carmen Dragon’s famous arrangement of Samuel Ward’s America the Beautiful.

The Southeastern Symphonic Winds is a performing ensemble consisting of Southeastern students and is open to qualified students in all disciplines pending competitive audition.

Admission to the concert is free of charge and open to the public. For more information, please contact the Department of Music at 580-745-2088 or Wallace at 580-745-2084.

James Young Music Scholarship established

The James O. Young Music Scholarship was commemorated Thursday with an endowment ceremony at Southeastern Oklahoma State University. Young is a 1967 graduate of Southeastern, where he was a member of the band. From left: Southeastern president Larry Minks, James Young, Zhakery Bradford, and Kyle Stafford, Executive Director of University Advancement. Bradford is a 2011 graduate of Durant High School and a freshman member of the Southeastern band. He is the first recipient of the James O. Young Music Scholarship.

DURANT, Okla. – The James O. Young Music Scholarship has been established through the Southeastern Foundation to benefit students attending Southeastern Oklahoma State University.

The endowment ceremony was held Thursday in the Welcome Center on the Southeastern campus.

This is established as an educational scholarship for students participating in Southeastern bands and specifically playing the euphonium. Students must have a minimum 2.5 grade-point average to qualify for the scholarship.

James Oliver Young is a Durant High School graduate who earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Southeastern in 1967 and his Doctor of Dental surgery degree from Baylor University in 1972.

His inspiration for endowing this scholarship is the gift of music he discovered while playing in the bands at Durant High and Southeastern. It has given him joy throughout his life and he wishes to share that joy with others.

Young married Virginia Koontz on May 27, 1967, and .they have three children, Amy, Jenny, and Thomas.

He established a private dental practice in Ardmore after graduation from Baylor and continued it until 1993, when he joined the Cherokee Telephone Company headquartered in Calera, Oklahoma.

Young was ordained a Deacon in the Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma in 2001 and was assigned to St. Philip’s Parish in Ardmore, where he established the Ardmore Soup Kitchen and entered the teaching and preaching rotation at St. Philip’s Church.