News-Star/Patriot Auto Group Car Finalists: Steele, Richardson

Vicky O. Misa
The Shawnee News-Star

Student of the Month: Shawnee High School senior MacKenzie Steele

Student of the Month MacKenzie Steele, of Shawnee.

Senior MacKenzie Steele is a leader at Shawnee High School and maintains a perfect 4.0 GPA.

She has been selected as one of The Shawnee News-Star and Patriot Auto Group Students of the Month for January and is now in the running to win a car.

“I have watched her grow from a young, somewhat naive freshman to a confident, well-spoken, astute high school senior,” Shawnee High School Counselor Cindy Bartley said. “MacKenzie has set herself apart from her peers through her strong desire to help others.”

She said Steele is respected and honest, and her opinions and participation are valued by everyone with whom she has made contact.

Steele set a goal of volunteering as much as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic, Bartley said.

“It was no surprise that MacKenzie chose to put her strong work ethic and her heart for others to use,” she said. “She volunteered at the Community Market of Pottawatomie County, and Legacy Parenting Center.”

Bartley said Steele believes strongly that food security is a basic necessity, and if someone has access to a food source, they can focus on other needs.

“By graduation, she will have completed 10 AP or advanced courses and four college concurrent courses,” she said. “During her senior year, MacKenzie chose to enroll in AP Chemistry, the most rigorous course at SHS. Most of the students who choose this course do so because they plan to pursue a science degree.”

Bartley said Steele chose to take the class simply because she wanted the challenge and enjoys the teacher.

“During her senior year when many of her peers are coasting in easy courses, MacKenzie is challenging herself,” she said.

Steele said she feels called to be an advocate for people who need second chances. She said her goal is to attend law school after college and become a defense attorney to help victims, specifically female and people-of-color violence victims, with things they need, regarding getting justice.

Her parents are Kris and Kellie Steele.

Student of the Month: Dale High School senior Cale Richardson

Student of the Month Cale Richardson, of Dale.

Senior Cale Richardson is a leader at Dale High School and maintains a 4.2 (weighted) GPA.

He has been selected as one of The Shawnee News-Star and Patriot Auto Group Students of the Month for January and is now in the running to win a car.

“Cale is the type of student who works well in a group or independently, offering intelligent, mature answers to discussions,” Dale High School English teacher Allison Robinson said. “With COVID-19, Cale continued to study and push himself, despite distance learning; he studied the AP website and really was very self-taught during the quarantine.”

Robinson said he pushed himself to read more advanced novels in preparation for the year-end exam.

“Cale went on to earn national credit for his AP score, and he is one of the most intuitive students I have taught in my 21 years of education,” she said. “He will be valedictorian of his class with a ranking of first.”

Robinson said Richardson is a strong leader in Dale's senior class.

Richardson's involvement includes band, jazz band, and National Honor Society, Robinson said.

“Cale has pushed and practiced his way into every honor band and all-state opportunity in the state,” she said. “He can be found playing his trumpet for the community at every event.”

Robinson said he volunteers and leads in his church community, and he takes his role very seriously.

Richardson also volunteers at the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma and during trash pickup days at Dale Cemetery.

She said Richardson has taken concurrent opportunities early, so he can get the most out of his education.

Several of his concurrent classes at Rose State College include geography, psychology, college algebra, Composition II, nutrition and Native American history.

“His personality and zest for life are his greatest attributes,” Robinson said. “His spirit, humor and work ethic can't be matched.”

She said Richardson, both respected and driven, is a joy to know.

“His resourceful work ethic and innovative nature will be an asset to any program,” she said.

Best of Preps 2020-21

For the fourth year, Patriot Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in Chandler is going to provide a brand new Jeep Renegade for the Patriot Student of the Year to a student from participating high schools in the area.

The Patriot Auto Group is teaming up with The Shawnee News-Star to recognize the area’s best student.

During the school year, two students of the month will be selected by an impartial panel of judges based off nominations from administrators at the school. Those 16 students will be finalists to win the Patriot Student of the Year award and one will drive home in a new car after the News-Star's fifth annual Best of Tri-County Preps banquet at FireLake Arena in the spring. The remaining 15 students will win scholarships.

Each month administrators at participating area high schools will submit a nomination for a senior who has an excellent grade point average, displays community leadership qualities, is an active volunteer and displays high moral integrity.

Additional sponsors of the program include Communications Federal Credit Union, Pioneer Library System, First National Bank and Trust Co., and the Citizen Potawatomi Nation.

There will be 16 finalists total, two each during the months of September through April; so far, finalists include:

• September — Callie Roberts, of Prague, and Kulson Yates, of Tecumseh

• October — Daniel King, of Shawnee, and Kylee Greenwalt, of Dale

• November — Kaycee Babek, of Meeker, and Chandler Wilson, of Bethel

• December — Isaac Mohr, of Bethel, and Haley Kidney, of Bethel

• January — MacKenzie Steele, of Shawnee, and Cale Richardson, of Dale

Watch for February finalists, coming soon.

For story ideas, questions or concerns, reporter Vicky O. Misa can be reached at