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2003 - Educational Institution Award - Education & Promotion - Cushing Middle School Class of '

It would not be an exaggeration to say that many people in Cushing may owe their good health to the 8th graders at Cushing Middle School six years ago. Without a series of persuasive letters the students wrote to agencies and legislators, deadly hydrogen fluoride and other chemicals might still be leaking from a former refinery at the west end of town.

Kent Hancock's 8th graders wanted to know why the refinery, which had been an inactive eyesore throughout their lives, had not been cleaned up. They got busy writing letters to the DEQ, the EPA and elected officials. Aided by Glynn McCauley, a concerned local citizen, the students have been credited with calling attention to the neglected refinery which led to the removal of the hazardous chemicals, the demolition of the site, and the ongoing cleanup there.

For proving that something as simple as letter-writing can make a tremendous difference, Kent Hancock and his 8th grade Cushing Middle School Class of '98 are good news for identifying and addressing environmental risks in Oklahoma.