A banner year — that’s what 2006 was in Rogers County.

Our population continued to explode, making us one of, if not, the fastest growing counties in the state. Work has begun on much needed improvements to our transportation infrastructure including the four-laning of Highway 88 between Claremore and Inola, and the initial design for an internal Highway 88 bypass in Claremore to serve the demands of the Expo Center, Rogers State University, the Will Rogers Memorial and the new campus of Northeast Technology Center.

But, perhaps, the thing in which we should take the most pride in 2006 are the accomplishments of our educational institutions. For example, both Foyil and Stuart Roosa Elementary schools had excellent results with test scores showing, once again, that we have great schools from the smallest school district in the county all the way through to the largest.

At Sequoyah, a school district that has distinguished itself with its academics by producing nuclear engineers, lawyers, business executives, and medical professionals, also demonstrated its athletic prowess by capturing the state 3A football title.

In Claremore, the opening of the new Performing Arts Center, which was funded by a generous gift from Frank and Ludmilla Robson, provides a location for all of Claremore’s superior performing arts programs to entertain. Whether it is band, chorus, drama, or any of the other uses for this facility, the Claremore school system finally has a building to match the quality of its programs.

The Northeast Technology Center announced plans for a new campus to be located near RSU and the Will Rogers Memorial. This new campus will allow students to obtain technological degrees, particularly in the health sciences area, while also being able to obtain academic credit through an innovative agreement with Rogers State University. This is an example of educational entities cooperating and putting the students first.

As always, RSU was a matter of great pride for 2006. The institution, once again, was one of Oklahoma’s fastest growing educational institutions passing the 4,000 mark in enrollment. Rogers State University has more students enrolled than Oklahoma State University (Tulsa), the University of Oklahoma (Tulsa), and Langston (Tulsa) combined.

A new innovative game development degree will put RSU at the forefront of the rapidly growing video game industry. This new degree is the only one of its kind in Oklahoma and one that requires a certain grade point average and ACT score for acceptance. The game development degree has the potential to put Rogers State University on the map regionally and nationally.

Ground was broken for a new Student Services Center which will also include space for the community to replace the outdated, and now torn down, Post Hall. The relationship between the University and the community will continue to grow and be strengthened as more and more community events take place in this new facility.

For Rogers County in general, and for our educational institutions in particular, 2006 was a great year! We can hardly wait for 2007 knowing all the exciting things that are occurring at every level of education in our area.

Stratton Taylor, attorney and former state legislator.

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