Aspiring to new heights

10 Tulsa ‘Brainiacs’ from the class of 2017 share their accomplishments and ambitions.



From playing five sports to creating nonprofits to representing the U.S. while meeting Chinese politicians, these 10 Tulsa-area high school graduates do it all. Regardless of their next steps, their extraordinary high school careers will propel them to soar in the real world.

 

Braden Bayless

Regent Preparatory School

Attending: John Brown University

“You’re only as good as your daily habits,” Bayless says. As a driven student, he is known for his excellence in leadership, singing and athletics.

He was an active member of Beta Club, a national service organization, and led his classmates in a service project each year. The past two years he received superior ratings for vocal performance at the State Solo and Ensemble Contest. Bayless also was presented the Christian Leadership Award for basketball and football, was named All-Conference Basketball Player for two years and was named All-Region Basketball Player.

Bayless received both a basketball scholarship and chancellor’s scholarship from JBU, where he will pursue a premedical degree.

Since freshman year, Bayless says, “I’ve learned how to communicate effectively, lead others to accomplish a goal and be confident.” He says he wants to be remembered in high school as a trailblazer for Regent basketball and as a person who represented Christ, his school and his family well.

 

Beau Bingham

Cascia Hall Preparatory School

Attending: Dartmouth College

If you are looking for Bingham, he is probably in the lab. Double majoring in biology and computer science at Dartmouth, he is a natural overachiever. He was a finalist in the Regeneron Science Talent Search, also referred to as the “Junior Nobel Prize,” in which applicants were selected based on “the scientific rigor and world-changing potential of their research projects.” Bingham’s project focused on drug discovery using natural products.

Bingham also was among 10 nationally recognized high school students chosen to represent the U.S. in a leadership visit to China in July, where they presented their research to Chinese politicians. He also received the second place Grand Award in microbiology at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in 2017 in Los Angeles and 2016 in Phoenix.

When asked how he has grown since freshman year, Bingham says, “I seek to question, not just answer.” He hopes to eventually contribute to the fight against antibiotic resistance through scientific research.

 

Lauren Lloyd

Tulsa Memorial High School

Attending: The University of Tulsa

When Lloyd wasn’t volunteering for the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree or being named to the honor roll, she was singing and acting in her high school’s musicals. She wants to be a professional opera singer and will major in vocal performance at TU, where she received a music scholarship.

She also has received other scholarships, such as the Force for Good, Hurricane Pledge and the Mervin Bovaird scholarships, for her outstanding academic successes and community service.

Lloyd says she stays motivated because “I can do what I set my mind to. I love the feeling of doing what I love every day and finding ways to make life around me a happier place.”

She hopes to be remembered as a leader “who always tried to do what was right.”

“Whether you realize it or not, you impact the lives of those around you,” Lloyd says. She advises incoming freshmen to make wise choices if they want to make a positive impact.

 

Stephanie Royer

Union High School 

Attending: The University of Texas at Dallas

Between music and literature, Royer is passionate about the arts. She is the founder and director of Music and Me, a nonprofit musical outreach that introduces violin and piano to underprivileged children, and she plays violin for nursing homes in her spare time. Her poetry and essays have been published in “Creative Communication” and the Poetry Institute of Canada. Royer was selected for the Eugene McDermott Scholar prize from UT-Dallas and will major in neuroscience and minor in music and public health.

One life lesson she has learned is that “intellectual reading is the most beneficial yet underrated activity in our society today.”

“Humans have so many beautiful thoughts,” Royer says. “Reading is a journey of intercepting them and learning how to incorporate them into our own and express this amalgamation.”

When asked how she has grown since freshman year, Royer says, “by continuously drinking milk!” On a more serious note, she advises incoming freshmen to study for the PSAT. Royer says, “This is your ticket to a full-ride, especially if you’re not an athlete.”

 

Jacob Taylor

Broken Arrow High School

Attending: Harding University

How many 18-year-olds dream of creating prosthetics for developing countries or making the next affordable medical device for missionaries to take overseas? For Taylor, it’s his ambition, and with his track record — that being his experience on the varsity cross-country and track team — he no doubt has the stamina to do it.

Taylor has received a full-ride through a National Merit Scholarship from Harding University in Arkansas, where he will study biomedical engineering in the fall. Collectively, Taylor has been granted over $118,000 in scholarships and won various awards throughout high school, including the Citizenship Award from the Sons of the American Revolution.

“I want to be remembered from my high school career as the student who cared about serving others so much that they forget that I was the ‘smart kid,’” Taylor says.

 

Erica Morris

Mingo Valley Christian

Attending: The University of Oklahoma

Constantly striving to leave “a trail of goodness and mercy,” Morris has completed over 190 hours of community service and hopes to have a career that “improves people’s lives and adds more good to the world.”

She will pursue a biomedical engineering degree from OU. She has received over $74,000 in scholarships and was co-valedictorian of her class and a National Merit finalist.

A natural perfectionist, Morris says she is her own biggest motivator. “I have an inherently strong desire to not disappoint myself and to produce something of value in whatever I do,” she says.

Along with her persistence in academics and service, Morris has received the Clarence Burg and James Breckenridge awards for state competition in piano and the Claudia Busse award for music theory.

In high school, Morris says she learned to not worry about how difficult something was until she actually tried it.

 

Jaya Chakka

Owasso High School

Attending: University of Kansas

Driven by her desire to help those who can’t help themselves, Chakka is attending KU to get her degree in behavioral neuroscience with a minor in Spanish. She hopes to conduct research to aid those with mental illness or learning disabilities.

Chakka says the best advice she has ever received is to avoid putting all your energy into trying to change what you cannot control because you will end up not changing anything at all.

As a National Merit Finalist, AP Scholar with Distinction, Owasso High School valedictorian and prom queen, Chakka was a busy high schooler. But her advice to incoming high school freshmen is to not overload themselves. “It’s OK to focus on one thing; you don’t have to be involved in every single club,” Chakka says. “If you don’t enjoy it and it doesn’t enrich your life, or someone else’s, in some way, don’t subject yourself to it.”

 

Erica Kelley

Riverfield Country Day School

Attending: Oklahoma State University

Having participated in varsity basketball, tennis, cross-country, cheer, soccer and competitive dance for four years, Kelley knows how to work hard and achieve her goals. She also was National Honor Society vice president and a junior board member of Emergency Infant Services. Last year, she helped raise $40,000 for EIS with her fellow junior board members. Kelley says she wants to become a physical therapist to help athletes recover from injuries.

She received the Academic Excellence Award from OSU, as well as scholarships from four other Midwest universities. Despite her success, she has learned that “It’s OK not to always be the best and not to worry so much about small things.”

When asked what advice she would give to freshmen, she says, “Make sure you go to every school event, even if you think it’s lame. You never know what memories you will make and the friends you will meet.”

 

Anitesh Bajaj

Jenks High School

Attending: University of Southern California

With almost 500 hours of documented community service, Bajaj has a staggering dedication to STEM awareness and volunteering. As a Youth Philanthropy Initiative member, he worked to introduce STEM lessons to 10 local public schools and encourage Tulsa’s underprivileged youth. He also was a member of Engineering Club, Pre-Med Society and Mu Alpha Theta (Math Honor Society).

His giving spirit has influenced his career path, as well. Bajaj will major in biochemistry and will pursue a career in medicine because of its “emphasis on caring for the patient and applying scientific principles to better humanity.”

He received $240,000 from USC, plus over $3,000 from other scholarship programs.

He says, “Failure is my No. 1 source of motivation because, when I encounter failure, it keeps me on my toes and forces me to change something that I am thinking or doing to eventually achieve success.”

 

Pierce Pettit

Booker T. Washington High School

Attending: Northwestern University

“I went to an extremely diverse high school, so I learned how to respect and empower others,” Pettit says. His respect for others has translated to a diversity of interests.

He was captain of the varsity swim team and a member of the varsity academic bowl. He also co-founded the BTW Native Youth Council and Film Society clubs. In his free time, he played violin in Tulsa Youth Symphony and was on an ultimate Frisbee team. He also was an active National Honor Society member, Eagle Scout and an Academic All-State champion.

Having received scholarships totaling over $55,000, which include the Osage Nation Higher Education Scholarship, he will major in materials engineering at Northwestern. In 10 years, he sees himself owning his own technology company.

He advises freshmen to “try things you think you’d enjoy” and to “make goals for yourself. If you go through high school aimlessly, you won’t get as much out of it.” 

 

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August 2017

At the Center for Creativity, our faculty practice what they teach by producing beautiful works of art and design using diverse media. This exhibit features works from faculty in the Visual Arts...

Cost: free and open to the public

Where:
McKeon Center for Creativity
910 S. Boston Ave.
TCC Metro Campus
Tulsa, OK  74119
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Sponsor: McKeon Center for Creativity
Telephone: 918-595-7339
Contact Name: Cindy Barton

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Cost: FREE for Garden members; $8 for ages 13+; $4 for ages 3–12; 2 & under are free.

Where:
Tulsa Botanic Garden
3900 Tulsa Botanic Drive
Tulsa, OK  74127
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Sponsor: Tulsa Botanic Garden
Telephone: 918-289-0330
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Elwood's
1924 Riverside Dr
Tulsa, OK
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River Spirit Casino - 5 O'Clock Somewhere Bar
8330 Riverside Pkwy.
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Mercury Lounge
1747 S Boston Ave
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ONEOK Field
201 N. Elgin Ave
Tulsa, OK  74120
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Soul City
1621 E 11th St
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328 E 1st St
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Soundpony
409 N Main St
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2809 S Harvard Ave
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At the Center for Creativity, our faculty practice what they teach by producing beautiful works of art and design using diverse media. This exhibit features works from faculty in the Visual Arts...

Cost: free and open to the public

Where:
McKeon Center for Creativity
910 S. Boston Ave.
TCC Metro Campus
Tulsa, OK  74119
View map »


Sponsor: McKeon Center for Creativity
Telephone: 918-595-7339
Contact Name: Cindy Barton

More information

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Soundpony
409 N Main St
Tulsa, OK
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Yeti
417 N Main St
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Mercury Lounge
1747 S Boston Ave
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Website »

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River Spirit Casino - 5 O'Clock Somewhere Bar
8330 Riverside Pkwy.
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Website »

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The Colony
2809 S Harvard Ave
Tulsa, OK
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Where:
Cain's Ballroom
423 North Main Street
Tulsa, OK  74103
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Telephone: 918.584.2306
Website »

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Where:
VFW Post 577 - Centennial Lounge
1109 E 6th St
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At the Center for Creativity, our faculty practice what they teach by producing beautiful works of art and design using diverse media. This exhibit features works from faculty in the Visual Arts...

Cost: free and open to the public

Where:
McKeon Center for Creativity
910 S. Boston Ave.
TCC Metro Campus
Tulsa, OK  74119
View map »


Sponsor: McKeon Center for Creativity
Telephone: 918-595-7339
Contact Name: Cindy Barton

More information

Cost: $5

Where:
VFW Post 577 - Centennial Lounge
1109 E 6th St
Tulsa, OK
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Where:
Yeti
417 N Main St
Tulsa, OK
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Telephone: (918) 936-4994
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Mercury Lounge
1747 S Boston Ave
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The Colony
2809 S Harvard Ave
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The Colony
2809 S Harvard Ave
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Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame
5 S Boston Ave
Tulsa, OK
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River Spirit Casino - 5 O'Clock Somewhere Bar
8330 Riverside Pkwy.
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Website »

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Soul City
1621 E 11th St
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Gypsy Coffee House
303 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd
Tulsa, OK
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Telephone: (918) 295-2181
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Cain's Ballroom
423 North Main Street
Tulsa, OK  74103
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Telephone: 918.584.2306
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At the Center for Creativity, our faculty practice what they teach by producing beautiful works of art and design using diverse media. This exhibit features works from faculty in the Visual Arts...

Cost: free and open to the public

Where:
McKeon Center for Creativity
910 S. Boston Ave.
TCC Metro Campus
Tulsa, OK  74119
View map »


Sponsor: McKeon Center for Creativity
Telephone: 918-595-7339
Contact Name: Cindy Barton

More information

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Cost: free

Where:
Hospitality House of Tulsa
1135 S. Victor AVE
Tulsa, OK  74104
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Sponsor: Hospitality House of Tulsa
Telephone: 918-794-0088 x205
Contact Name: Rhonda McDaniel
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River Spirit Casino - 5 O'Clock Somewhere Bar
8330 Riverside Pkwy.
Tulsa, OK  74137
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Website »

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Loony Bin
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Ste. 234
Tulsa, OK
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Telephone: (918) 392-5653
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The Colony
2809 S Harvard Ave
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1109 E 6th St
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3120 S. Yale Ave.
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Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame
5 S Boston Ave
Tulsa, OK
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Cain's Ballroom
423 North Main Street
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409 N Main St
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At the Center for Creativity, our faculty practice what they teach by producing beautiful works of art and design using diverse media. This exhibit features works from faculty in the Visual Arts...

Cost: free and open to the public

Where:
McKeon Center for Creativity
910 S. Boston Ave.
TCC Metro Campus
Tulsa, OK  74119
View map »


Sponsor: McKeon Center for Creativity
Telephone: 918-595-7339
Contact Name: Cindy Barton

More information

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Cost: FREE for Garden members; $8 for ages 13+; $4 for ages 3–12; 2 & under are free.

Where:
Tulsa Botanic Garden
3900 Tulsa Botanic Drive
Tulsa, OK  74127
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Sponsor: Tulsa Botanic Garden
Telephone: 918-289-0330
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Guthrie Green
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Tulsa, OK  74103
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Mercury Lounge
1747 S Boston Ave
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Hard Rock Hotel and Casino - Riffs
777 W Cherokee Street
Catoosa, OK  74105
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Soundpony
409 N Main St
Tulsa, OK
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Hard Rock Hotel and Casino - Cabin Creek
777 W Cherokee Street
Catoosa, OK  74105
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Fassler Hall
304 S. Elgin Avenue
Tulsa, OK  74120
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The Blackbird on Pearl
1336 E 6th St
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Utica Square
21st Street and Utica Avenue
Tulsa, OK
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#1 New York Times Bestselling Author Sandra Brown delivers suspense and supercharged sexual tension in her new thriller about vengeance without mercy, ÒSeeing Red.Ó

Where:
IDL Ballroom
230 E 1st St.
Tulsa, OK  74103
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Telephone: (918) 551-7447
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Comedy Parlor
328 E 1st St
Tulsa, OK
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Telephone: (918) 921-3535
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Cain's Ballroom
423 North Main Street
Tulsa, OK  74103
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Hunt Club
224 N Main St
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River Spirit Casino - 5 O'Clock Somewhere Bar
8330 Riverside Pkwy.
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3900 Tulsa Botanic Drive
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The Colony
2809 S Harvard Ave
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Cost: $75-$85

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Hard Rock Hotel and Casino - The Joint
777 W Cherokee Street
Catoosa, OK  74105
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At the Center for Creativity, our faculty practice what they teach by producing beautiful works of art and design using diverse media. This exhibit features works from faculty in the Visual Arts...

Cost: free and open to the public

Where:
McKeon Center for Creativity
910 S. Boston Ave.
TCC Metro Campus
Tulsa, OK  74119
View map »


Sponsor: McKeon Center for Creativity
Telephone: 918-595-7339
Contact Name: Cindy Barton

More information

Get your wheels in motion and join us for our 4th Annual CF Cycle for Life Night Ride! Participants will start the evening at our Get Lit tent getting their glow on, and then gearing up to ride...

Cost: $150 Fundraising Minimum

Where:
Guthrie Green
111 E Brady St
Tulsa, OK
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Sponsor: Benefits Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
Telephone: 918-744-6354
Contact Name: Jessica Cermak
Website »

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Cost: $6-$8

Where:
Philbrook Museum of Art
2727 S Rockford Road
Tulsa, OK
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Website »

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Billy and Renee's
6373 E 31st St
Tulsa, OK
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Telephone: 918-836-0655
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River Spirit Casino - 5 O'Clock Somewhere Bar
8330 Riverside Pkwy.
Tulsa, OK  74137
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Crystal Skull
1005 S Sheridan Rd
Tulsa, OK
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Telephone: (918) 949-9800
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River Spirit Casino - Volcano Stage
8330 Riverside Pkwy.
Tulsa, OK  74137
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Hunt Club
224 N Main St
Tulsa, OK
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Telephone: (918) 599-9200
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Comedy Parlor
328 E 1st St
Tulsa, OK
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Telephone: (918) 921-3535
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Hard Rock Hotel and Casino - Riffs
777 W Cherokee Street
Catoosa, OK  74105
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American Legion Post 308
11328 E Admiral Pl
Tulsa, OK
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Hard Rock Hotel and Casino - Cabin Creek
777 W Cherokee Street
Catoosa, OK  74105
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Fassler Hall
304 S. Elgin Avenue
Tulsa, OK  74120
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Telephone: (918) 576-7898
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Cost: $10

Where:
Comedy Parlor
328 E 1st St
Tulsa, OK
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Telephone: (918) 921-3535
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Cost: $5

Where:
Fuel 66
11th Street and Atlanta Avenue
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Website »

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Where:
River Spirit Casino - LandShark Pool Bar
8330 Riverside Pkwy.
Tulsa, OK  74137
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The Venue Shrine
112 E. 18th St.
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Telephone: (918) 949-1345
Website »

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Lennie's Club & Grill
8181 E Skelly Dr
Tulsa, OK
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Test your knowledge of art, pop culture, history, and Tulsa at Gilcrease's monthly night at the museum.

Where:
Gilcrease Museum
1400 N Gilcrease Museum Rd
Tulsa, OK  74127
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Telephone: (918) 596-2700
Website »

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Soundpony
409 N Main St
Tulsa, OK
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Telephone: (918) 582-7669
Website »

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Cost: $45-$105

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River Spirit Casino - Paradise Cove
8330 Riverside Pkwy.
Tulsa, OK  74137
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At the Center for Creativity, our faculty practice what they teach by producing beautiful works of art and design using diverse media. This exhibit features works from faculty in the Visual Arts...

Cost: free and open to the public

Where:
McKeon Center for Creativity
910 S. Boston Ave.
TCC Metro Campus
Tulsa, OK  74119
View map »


Sponsor: McKeon Center for Creativity
Telephone: 918-595-7339
Contact Name: Cindy Barton

More information

Registration for the 5K begins at 6:30 am. The race begins at 8am. Entry fee is $25. Proceeds go to Cleveland, Mannford, Keystone, Prue, Woodland, Pawnee, and Jennings schools.

Cost: $25

Where:
Cleveland High School
600 N Gilbert
Cleveland, OK  74020
View map »


Sponsor: Cimarron Telephone Company
Telephone: 918-865-3311
Contact Name: Allee Pearson
Website »

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The Hardesty Center for Fab Lab Tulsa will host the fifth annual Tulsa Mini Make Faire on Saturday, August 26th, from 10am to 5pm in Central Park Hall at Expo Square.  The family-friendly...

Cost: Free

Where:
Central Park Hall at Expo Square
1701 S. Sandusky Ave.
Tulsa, OK  74112
View map »


Sponsor: Fab Lab Tulsa
Telephone: 918-779-6025
Contact Name: Nathan Pritchett
Website »

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Join Garden staff for a walk to enjoy the summer colors and fragrances in the Garden. Tour starts at 1pm on both days. Tulsa Botanic Garden is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10am to 5pm, and...

Cost: FREE for Garden members; $8 for ages 13+; $4 for ages 3–12; 2 & under are free.

Where:
Tulsa Botanic Garden
3900 Tulsa Botanic Drive
Tulsa, OK  74127
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Botanic Garden
Telephone: 918-289-0330
Website »

More information

THE ONLY SEAT BETTER THAN RINGSIDE!! Our knock-out prices include cover charge. $15 - Midway Viewing $25 - Reserved Bar Top Seating $50 - Private Viewing + Buffet Package $100 -...

Cost: Varies by Seating Choice

Where:
Dave & Buster's
6812 S. 105th E. Ave
HWY 169 | Behind Beat Buy
Tulsa, OK  74133
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Telephone: 918-449-3106
Contact Name: Katrina Mills
Website »

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A one-night only event in which comics will perform their sets while stripping. Because a good sense of humor is the most attractive thing.

Cost: $5

Where:
Comedy Parlor
328 E 1st St
Tulsa, OK
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Telephone: (918) 921-3535
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Learn about the music of Chamber Music TulsaÕs upcoming season in this lecture by musicologist Jason Heilman.

Where:
Central Library
400 Civic Center
Tulsa, OK  74103
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Telephone: (918) 549-7323
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The Oklahoma Swing Syndicate (TOSS) hosts a Swing dance and lessons  The Oklahoma Swing Syndicate (TOSS) is the only UNESCO recognized dance organization in Oklahoma.  We are a 501c3...

Cost: $7

Where:
Community Center - South Minister Presby Church
3500 So Peoria
1/2 west of Peoria, on 35pl behind the church
Tulsa, OK  74102
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Sponsor: The Ok Swing Syndicate
Telephone: 918-450-691
Contact Name: Rita Robbins
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Where:
River Spirit Casino - LandShark Pool Bar
8330 Riverside Pkwy.
Tulsa, OK  74137
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Where:
River Spirit Casino - 5 O'Clock Somewhere Bar
8330 Riverside Pkwy.
Tulsa, OK  74137
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Cost: $5

Where:
The Blackbird on Pearl
1336 E 6th St
Tulsa, OK
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Telephone: (918) 949-1345
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See incredible contraptions and more as makers and creative people of all kinds show and tell at Tulsa Mini Maker Faire.

Where:
Expo Square - Central Park Hall
4145 E 21st St
Tulsa, OK
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Where:
Hunt Club
224 N Main St
Tulsa, OK
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Telephone: (918) 599-9200
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Where:
The Colony
2809 S Harvard Ave
Tulsa, OK
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Telephone: (918) 794-4208
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Cost: $18-$20

Where:
Woody Guthrie Center
102 E M.B. Brady St
Tulsa, OK
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Telephone: 918-574-2710
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Burlesque performers from around the state compete against their counterparts from Texas.

Cost: $18-$35

Where:
IDL Ballroom
230 E 1st St.
Tulsa, OK  74103
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Telephone: (918) 551-7447
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Making plans for this weekend? You can't do better than The Drunkard & The Olio at the historic Spotlight Theater. You know you've always wanted to go, and now's your chance. And if...

Cost: Adults $20, kids $12, seniors & military $17

Where:
Spotlight Theater
1381 Riverside Dr.
Tulsa, OK  74127
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Cost: $10

Where:
Comedy Parlor
328 E 1st St
Tulsa, OK
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Telephone: (918) 921-3535
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Where:
Hard Rock Hotel and Casino - Cabin Creek
777 W Cherokee Street
Catoosa, OK  74105
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Cost: $95

Where:
PostOak Lodge and Retreat
5323 WEST 31ST STREET NORTH
Tulsa, OK  74127
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Telephone: (918) 425-2112
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Where:
The Fur Shop
520 E 3rd St
Tulsa, OK
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Telephone: (918) 949-4292
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Where:
River Spirit Casino - Volcano Stage
8330 Riverside Pkwy.
Tulsa, OK  74137
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Where:
Yeti
417 N Main St
Tulsa, OK
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Telephone: (918) 936-4994
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Cost: $10

Where:
Vanguard
222 N Main St
Tulsa, OK
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Telephone: (319) 804-9727
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Where:
George's Pub
108 N 1st St
Jenks, OK  74037
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Where:
Soundpony
409 N Main St
Tulsa, OK
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Telephone: (918) 582-7669
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Where:
Mercury Lounge
1747 S Boston Ave
Tulsa, OK
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Where:
Hard Rock Hotel and Casino - Riffs
777 W Cherokee Street
Catoosa, OK  74105
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Music program in tune with kids

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