Oklahoma license plate to support education revealed

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OKLAHOMA CITY – Drivers may soon notice a new tag on the back of vehicles on Oklahoma roads.

On Wednesday, the design of a specialty license plate in support of education was revealed as the winner of an online vote.

It features the watercolor painting based on the vintage Jones Chapel Schoolhouse in Wintersmith Park in Ada at sunrise. The historic one-room structure was built in 1907, the same year Oklahoma became a state.

Behind the artwork is Latta High School junior Sarah Skaggs.

“The early schoolhouse is a strong visual reminder of Oklahoma’s time-honored commitment to free public schools for all children, which is enshrined in our state constitution,” said State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister. “The results of the online vote demonstrate the enduring power of this image of a rural institution on the prairie. Sarah tapped into an inspiring subject and executed it beautifully.”

Skaggs was among almost 800 entries the Oklahoma State Department of Education received from students across the state for the ‘License to Educate’ art contest. The OSDE then narrowed the entries to six finalists, and a total of 16,549 votes were cast in a two-week period.

Skaggs, who plans to pursue a career in forensic art, created multiple versions of her painting before she submitted it to the contest.

“This was not my first draft, trust me,” she said. “It takes time to be better, and I learned it won’t always be right the first time.”

Jenny Salter, who has taught art at Latta for seven years, urged Skaggs to enter the contest because she thought her student had the talent and determination to create a work of art that would resonate with voters.

“Sarah takes her art extremely seriously; she works on every piece with time and care, often undertaking project ideas that require meticulous effort,” Salter said. “I cannot wait to see how she uses her talents in the future. She truly has a gift.”

In addition to working with watercolors and graphite, Skaggs is the graphic design editor of the school’s online newspaper.

Hofmeister applauded the efforts of all those who participated.

“It was such a delight to see hundreds of pieces of original student artwork flood into the Oklahoma State Department of Education,” she said. “Thank you to all of the students who shared their creations and every teacher who provided encouragement and guidance.”

The specialty plate is the result of a recent state law authored by Sen. Stephanie Bice and Rep. Ryan Martinez aimed at curbing Oklahoma’s teacher shortage.

The plate is available for pre-order now at local tag agencies as well as online. It sells for $35 (plus an additional $3 mailing fee), with most of the proceeds helping to recruit and retain teachers in the state. The Oklahoma Tax Commission has to receive 100 pre-orders by May 1 before it’s put into production.

For more information on the License to Educate contest, click here.

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