'13's top 13

Meet our Class of 2013 Brainiacs, 13 of the best and brightest Tulsa high school grads.



(page 1 of 3)

“Pomp and Circumstance” has played, the graduation party confetti has been picked up; the Class of 2013 has graduated. From this point, Tulsa high schools send their seniors off to do everything from jumpstart a musical career to attend the nation’s most prestigious universities. All are going somewhere, but we’ve found the select few that stand above the rest. 


Kelsey Ritchie

Bishop Kelley High School
Texas Christian University

Achievements: 4.67 GPA; valedictorian; ACT score of 34; National Merit Scholar; TCU Chancellor’s Scholar; AP Scholar; National Champion in Extemporaneous Commentary at the National Forensics League National Speech and Debate Tournament; hall of fame inductee for Tulsa County 4-H Youth Development Foundation; Youth Member of the Year for the American Paint Horse Association; three-time state champion in domestic extemporaneous speaking; state champion in original oratory; world champion of the American Quarter Horse Youth Association.

Community Service: All Stars Therapeutic Riding Center volunteer; John 3:16 Mission volunteer; Catholic Charities volunteer.

Involvement: National Honor Society president; national youth president of the Pinto Horse Association of America.

Q & A

What is your favorite memory from high school?

My high school experience was truly awesome. From road-tripping across the state for Friday night football games, planning pep rallies and working the all night freshman lock-in, my favorite memory is definitely a hard choice! However, this winter nine members of the speech and debate team went to Boston for a week for the Harvard Speech and Debate tournament. Walking the freedom trail, experiencing the "ivy league" life and shopping made it a wonderful trip!

What will you miss most about high school life?

One of my favorite things about high school has been going to all of the amazing concerts at Cain's. I will definitely miss those downtown nights!

What's your best piece of advice for high schoolers?

Prioritize and give up on the idea of sleep! Get involved in everything you can, find what you're passionate about and try to figure out a way to make that passion into first a major in college and then a career. Try your hardest in school, appreciate your parents, start college applications the summer before your senior year but most importantly have a great time.

What did you want to be growing up, what are your plans now?

I grew up around the equine industry, and I always wanted to be a veterinarian. However, the more I got involved with speech and debate, the more I discovered my true love was talking. I plan on double majoring in political science and business with a minor in journalism broadcasting. I want to go to Law School and practice law, but my ultimate dream is hosting a political talk show on something like CNN or Fox News.

What are you looking forward to most about college?

I'm so excited to meet new people. I love talking to everyone, and I'm so excited to get involved with a lot on campus! I expect college to be an independent and glorified version of my high school experience.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I would love to spend a few years in D.C. right when I get out of law school. Then, I'd like to settle down in Oklahoma or Texas as a practicing attorney and live on a big ranch.


Brennen VanderVeen

Broken Arrow High School
University of Tulsa

Achievements: 5.17 GPA; valedictorian; ACT score of 32; National Merit Scholar; took 11 AP classes.

Community Service: Participated in Walk for Wishes, Race for the Cure, Relay for Life, and Laps for Little Ones

Involvement: Member of academic team, Latin club and National Honor Society; mock trial participant; worked during the summer at United Warehouse as a general laborer.

Q & A

What is your favorite high school memory?

I really enjoyed having a debate on the Affordable Care Act (commonly called Obamacare) in AP Language during junior year.  I was one of the leaders of the debate, and one of my close friends was on the other side.  I had a lot of fun through the challenge of our discussion.

What will you miss most about high school life?

I'm staying local, but several of my closest friends will be moving, some of them very far away.  Even though I'm sure I'll meet new people, it'll be strange never seeing people whom I'm used to seeing every day.

What's your best piece of advice for those entering high school and current high schoolers?

This will probably sound typical, but avoiding procrastination is probably the best advice I can give.  Having a designated time and place to do homework will keep one's stress in line.

What's your favorite thing to do in Tulsa?

I'm a bit of a homebody, but I really enjoy the Tulsa Zoo.  I have good memories with my friends there.

What did you want to be growing up? What are you planning to be now?

I wanted to be a teacher when I was much younger.  Now, I'd like to be a judge or attorney.

What are you looking forward to most about college?

I'm looking forward to having a greater degree of independence.  It'll be the first time I'm living outside of my home.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

I see myself somewhere in the legal profession.


Lauren Thomas

Metro Christian Academy
University of Tulsa

Achievements: Valedictorian; headmaster’s honor roll; Oklahoma Academic Scholar; Princeton Book Award nominee.

Community service: Mission work with Asbury United Methodist Church in Guatemala and Jamaica.

Involvement: Vice-president of National Honor Society; member of MCA Leadership Class, a group of 20 students that organizes school functions and serves the student body; captain of the MCA track team.

Q & A

What is your favorite high school memory?

My favorite high school memory is eating lunch outside every day with all of my friends. We would go out and all sit in a circle on the sidewalk and eat as long as the weather was nice. It was so fun to hang out with everyone and just enjoy the outdoors in the middle of the day.

What will you miss most about high school life?

I will miss hanging out with my mom every day. When I would get home from school I would talk to her about my day and then every night we would sit in our living room and talk or watch TV until it was getting late. I am going to miss her so much!

What's your best piece of advice for high schoolers?

My advice would be to not take life too seriously. Yes, work hard in school or sports or whatever else you do, but remember that the things that really matter are your relationships with your family and friends, so save some time and energy for them!

What's your favorite thing to do in Tulsa?

I have a lot of things I love to do in Tulsa, but my favorite is to go to Cosmo Café on Brookside and get the grilled cheese special! I also love to hang out downtown and try new restaurants, go to concerts, play sand volleyball at 71st and Riverside and go to Woodward Park.

What did you want to be growing up? What are you planning to be now?

Growing up, I remember wanting to be a gymnast or basketball player. Now I am planning to pursue a degree in biomedical engineering, but I have a lot of interests so I will be keeping my options open.

What are you looking forward to most about college?

I am mostly excited about being around many new and different kinds of people, narrowing my field of study and picking my own church and getting involved there.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

It is hard to imagine where I will be because the possibilities are endless, but I hope to be finished with my education, married and pursuing a career I truly love.


Kaze Mauser

Tulsa School of Arts and Sciences
University of Central Oklahoma

Achievements: Prize-winning jazz piano player — more than a dozen soloist awards in local and state competitions; All-State Jazz Ensemble pianist; competed in the Mingus Competition in New York City and was selected as one of the competition’s outstanding soloists; recipient of the TSAS Louis Armstrong Award.

Community Service: Played at countless benefit and fundraising concerts supporting TSAS.

Involvement: Member of the Jazz Ambassadors, played in the student jazz combo called “The Passing Tones.”

Q & A

What is your favorite high school memory?

My favorite high school memory would be getting to be around such a great community of teachers and friends. I couldn’t have asked for a better high school experience, and my peers and school environment are most definitely responsible for that.

What will you miss most about high school life?

Mostly, I will just miss living in Tulsa.

What's your best piece of advice for those entering high school/current high schoolers?

For current or in-coming high schoolers, my piece of advice for you would be to play the game. Keep your end goal in mind at all times and keep working towards the greater good.

What's your favorite thing to do in Tulsa?

My favorite thing to do in Tulsa is play gigs around town. The music community in Tulsa is unique in its style, friendliness and accessibility, and it always provides a good time whether you’re playing or listening. It will be hard finding a more well-rounded musical community anywhere else.

What did you want to be growing up? What are you planning to be now?

At different points in my life, I have wanted to be an entomologist, a coroner, and a musician. You could say that my aspirations have been all over the place, but at the moment I plan to study biochemistry and hopefully attain a masters degree in a related field. For what is man without desire?

What are you looking forward to the most about college?

I am looking forward to more specific learning in fields that I am interested in. The transition from general requirements to shaping a trade/career has been long awaited.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

Married with children.........on the moon.

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