Former Brainiacs

Where are they now? We catch up with three past ‘Brainiacs’ to see where life has taken them.



Leona Thao

Courtesy

Leona Thao

East Central High School, class of 2008

After high school, Thao earned her bachelor’s in business management from Oklahoma State University. She also spent a summer in Washington, D.C., learning how to be a social change agent with the Internal Revenue Service through the OCA National (formerly known as the Organization of Chinese Americans) Summer Internship Program. Then, in 2014, she received the Diversity of Views and Experiences Fellowship to pursue a master’s of public policy and a minor in program evaluation at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota.

Born in Tulsa, the 27-year-old is an independent consultant in St. Paul, Minnesota. She says one of her current projects involves collecting data about the leadership development needs of Hmong girls ages 12-18 living in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area. The information gathered will help her and her client design a culturally specific impactful leadership program for that population.


What has been your proudest moment to date? “My proudest moment to date is earning my master’s degree,” Thao says. “I’m a child of refugee parents of the Secret War in Laos. As a first-generation college student, many of the things I navigated through were firsts for my family. I’m very privileged because I survived undergraduate and graduate school.”

How do you still embody a “Brainiac?” Along with always wanting to learn and grow, she says, “Everyone is a brainiac in their own way. If you’re passionate about something, pursue it. You’ll be the brainiac of your passion.”

What is the best advice you’ve ever received? To connect with society through responsibility. Thao says, “You cannot change any society unless you take responsibility for it, unless you see yourself as belonging to it and being responsible for changing it.”

 

 

Blaise Staab

Tulsa Memorial High School, class of 2008

Blaise Staab / Courtesy

After high school, Staab attended Columbia University, where he played Division I basketball and received a degree in mechanical engineering. He says his proudest moment was getting a double-double (11 points, 12 rebounds) against defending national champion the University of Connecticut.

Staab will be an MBA candidate at McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas in Austin this fall. “However, I have enjoyed working for the past five years at ONEOK Partners in Tulsa,” Staab says. “I have been challenged by my work as an engineer, but also have been able to serve my community in many ways.”


Do you keep up with any of the hobbies or activities you did in high school? “I have been fortunate to serve as an assistant coach for my alma mater’s (Memorial High School) boys basketball team for the past three years,” Staab says. Memorial won the state championship in 2008 when Staab was a player, and in 2017 the team won the state championship while he was a coach. “I was also able to coach my younger brother during his senior year at Memorial. That was a real treat.”

How do you still embody a “Brainiac?” “I love standardized tests,” he says. “Studying for the GMAT to get into graduate school, I became obsessed with what I didn’t know. If I got an answer wrong on a practice test, I would get so excited because it was an opportunity to learn something new. I enjoy using this mentality in my life today.”

 

Maya Wei-Haas

Booker T. Washington High School, class of 2005

Maya Wei-Haas / Photo by Valerie Grant

Wei-Haas majored in geology with a minor in chemistry at Smith College. Then she headed to Ohio State University for a doctorate in environmental chemistry. However, halfway through the program she realized she was “no longer enamored with science.” Her now-husband, Travis Brown, suggested she take art classes again since she hadn’t taken any after high school. She eventually earned a science-reporting fellowship at National Geographic. Wei-Haas says, “I haven’t looked back since.”

At 30, she is an editorial assistant for science and innovation at Smithsonian.com. She lives in Washington, D.C.

Although she was on the rowing crew and played violin in high school, “these days I’m a lot less musical,” Wei-Hass says, “but I still try to keep up with athletics.” She makes time to run, cycle, swim and row on stationary machines.

Her passions in high school and undergrad might have changed, but she says, “I will always be the slightly nerdy, shy gal who is giggling at comics on my computer. And now, I have more people to share these geeky moments with.”


What has been your proudest moment to date? “That first time I saw my byline under the National Geographic masthead,” Wei-Haas says. “It was one of the first times in many years of doubt that I thought I had found myself.”

She says her biggest goal right now is to spark curiosity in others, by opening “people’s minds up to new concepts and ideas, hopefully giving them a new way to think about the world and the happenings around them.”

How do you still embody a “Brainiac?” “I’ve never thought of myself as a ‘Brainiac’ per se. I honestly doubt my true intelligence daily,” she says. “But I work hard at everything I do, which I’ve learned counts for way more than basic smarts.”

 

 

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September 2019

Featuring more than seventy works by French and European masters such as Degas, Manet, Monet, Rousseau and Van Gogh, this exhibition celebrates Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon’s extraordinary gift...

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Telephone: (405) 236-3100
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Union High School Track
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Tulsa, OK  74133
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A Variety of Area Restaurants
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Telephone: (405) 236-3100
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McKeon Center for Creativity
910 S. Boston Ave.
TCC Metro Campus
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Sponsor: Tulsa Community College
Telephone: 918-595-7339
Contact Name: Cindy Armstrong
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Cost: $25 - above

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Tulsa Ballet - Studio K
1212 E 45th Place
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Sponsor: Tulsa Ballet
Contact Name: Dan Meagher
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Disney On Ice presents Mickey’s Search Party is Coming to Tulsa, OK, September 26 - 29 Bringing the Magic Closer to Fans than Ever Before TULSA, OK — Create unforgettable...

Cost: $15, $20, $30, $35, $40, $45

Where:
Expo Square Pavilion
4145 East 21st
Tulsa, OK  74137
View map »


Sponsor: Feld Entertainment
Telephone: 918-798-3655
Contact Name: Kasey Littlefield

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In our 4-week Beginning Fencing class, you'll learn about the history of Olympic fencing, the three fencing weapons – foil, saber and epee – and the general rules for each of the specific...

Cost: $75

Where:
Southminster Presbyterian Church Community Center
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Sponsor: Tulsa Fencing Club
Telephone: 918-928-2663
Website »

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Cost: $15

Where:
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View map »


Telephone: (405) 236-3100
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free and open to the community

Where:
Woodland Hills Mall
7021 S Memorial Dr.
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View map »


Telephone: 713-224-9115
Contact Name: Woodland Hills Mall

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Cost: Free

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Living Arts of Tulsa
307 East Reconciliation Way
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Lewis Project Space
20 S. Lewis Ave.
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Sponsor: Tulsa Artist Fellowship

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McKeon Center for Creativity (C4C)
910 S. Boston Ave.
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Cost: free & open to the public

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McKeon Center for Creativity (C4C)
910 S. Boston Ave.
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Contact Name: Cindy Armstrong

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In our 4-week Beginning Fencing class, you'll learn about the history of Olympic fencing, the three fencing weapons – foil, saber and epee – and the general rules for each of the specific...

Cost: $75

Where:
Southminster Presbyterian Church Community Center
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View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Fencing Club
Telephone: 918-928-2663
Website »

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Featuring more than seventy works by French and European masters such as Degas, Manet, Monet, Rousseau and Van Gogh, this exhibition celebrates Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon’s extraordinary gift...

Cost: $15

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Drive
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: (405) 236-3100
Website »

More information

Woodland Hills Mall is excited to host Beauty Week, which is a unique way for the people in Tulsa to experience all the beauty that Woodland Hills Mall has to offer.  Participating retailers...

Cost: Free and open to the community

Where:
Woodland Hills Mall
7021 S Memorial Dr.
Tulsa, OK  74133
View map »


Telephone: 713-224-9115
Contact Name: Woodland Hills Mall

More information

Living Arts of Tulsa will present a multi-media exhibit of Jave Yoshimoto’s work. Intractable Chasm examines the refugee crisis in Greece, experienced firsthand by Yoshimoto when he...

Cost: Free

Where:
Living Arts of Tulsa
307 East Reconciliation Way
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DivorceCare is a faith based, 13-week support program to help you through the after-effects of divorce. The DVD teaching includes topics such as understanding the hurt, dealing with anger,...

Cost: $15

Where:
Asbury United Methodist Church
6767 S Mingo Rd
Tulsa, OK  74133
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Sponsor: Asbury LifeCare Ministry
Telephone: 918-392-1146
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Cost: 0

Where:
Asbury United Methodist Church
6767 S Mingo Rd
Tulsa, OK  74133
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Sponsor: Asbury United Methodist Church
Telephone: 918-392-1146
Contact Name: Ruth Winn
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Why walk through grief alone when you can participate in GriefShare’s highly acclaimed 13-week video-based support group with others experiencing the same? This group offers a comfortable...

Cost: $15

Where:
Asbury United Methodist Church
6767 S Mingo Rd
Tulsa, OK  74133
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Sponsor: Asbury LifeCare Ministry
Telephone: 918-392-1146
Contact Name: Ruth Winn
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Get moved with Tulsa Ballet! Experience incredible works from the most in-demand choreographers in the world at Creations in Studio K. Tickets start at $25. Read all about the exciting pieces...

Cost: $25 - above

Where:
Tulsa Ballet - Studio K
1212 E 45th Place
Tulsa, OK  74105
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Sponsor: Tulsa Ballet
Contact Name: Dan Meagher
Website »

More information

In our 4-week Beginning Fencing class, you'll learn about the history of Olympic fencing, the three fencing weapons – foil, saber and epee – and the general rules for each of the specific...

Cost: $75

Where:
Southminster Presbyterian Church Community Center
3500 S Peoria
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View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Fencing Club
Telephone: 918-928-2663
Website »

More information

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The Evening of Giving is a fundraising gala held in late September and presented by the HBA Remodelers Council to raise funds to support local charities. This year's beneficiary is...

Cost: TBA

Where:
Mike Fretz Event Center
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Tulsa, OK  74146
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Telephone: 918-663-5820
Contact Name: Morgan Sikes
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Featuring more than seventy works by French and European masters such as Degas, Manet, Monet, Rousseau and Van Gogh, this exhibition celebrates Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon’s extraordinary gift...

Cost: $15

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Drive
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: (405) 236-3100
Website »

More information

Woodland Hills Mall is excited to host Beauty Week, which is a unique way for the people in Tulsa to experience all the beauty that Woodland Hills Mall has to offer.  Participating retailers...

Cost: Free and open to the community

Where:
Woodland Hills Mall
7021 S Memorial Dr.
Tulsa, OK  74133
View map »


Telephone: 713-224-9115
Contact Name: Woodland Hills Mall

More information

Experience the sites, sounds and smells of Greece!  The best lil stop in OPA!homa - just off route 66. Live music, dancing, kids zone, Greek food and drink, delectable baked goods, Greek...

Cost: Adults $5/Kids Free

Where:
13th & Guthrie Ave
1222 S. Guthrie Ave

Tulsa, OK  74119
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Greek Festival
Telephone: 918-583-2082
Contact Name: Tonya Boone
Website »

More information

Living Arts of Tulsa will present a multi-media exhibit of Jave Yoshimoto’s work. Intractable Chasm examines the refugee crisis in Greece, experienced firsthand by Yoshimoto when he...

Cost: Free

Where:
Living Arts of Tulsa
307 East Reconciliation Way
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More information

This annual fundraiser is hosted by the Remodeler's Council of the Home Builder's Association. ALL are welcome to attend and support these worthy causes.  The Evening...

Cost: TBA

Where:
Mike Fretz Event Center
11545 E 43rd St
Tulsa, OK  74146
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Sponsor: Day Build & Design
Telephone: 918-663-5820
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Rooms With A Heart Inc. is holding their 2nd Annual Casino Night Fundraiser on Septemer 19, 2019 at the Greenwood Cultural Center in Tulsa from 6-10 pm.  Tickets are $50 per person and include...

Cost: $50

Where:
Greenwood Cultural Center
322 N. Greenwood Avenue
Tulsa, OK  74120
View map »


Sponsor: Rooms With A Heart Inc.
Telephone: 918-277-2114
Contact Name: Gina Johnson
Website »

More information

The Evening of Giving is a fundraising gala held in late September and presented by the HBA Remodelers Council to raise funds to support local charities. This year's beneficiary is Revitalizing...

Cost: TBA

Where:
Mike Fretz Event Center
11545 E 43rd St
Tulsa
Tulsa, OK  74146
View map »


Telephone: 918-663-5820
Contact Name: Morgan Sikes
Website »

More information

Get moved with Tulsa Ballet! Experience incredible works from the most in-demand choreographers in the world at Creations in Studio K. Tickets start at $25. Read all about the exciting pieces...

Cost: $25 - above

Where:
Tulsa Ballet - Studio K
1212 E 45th Place
Tulsa, OK  74105
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Ballet
Contact Name: Dan Meagher
Website »

More information

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Cost: $15 Bistro / $10 General Admission

Where:
Lynn Riggs Theatre at OKEQ
621 East 4th Street
Tulsa, OK  74120
View map »


Sponsor: OKEQ and Pat Hobbs
Telephone: 918-637-25866
Contact Name: Pat Hobbs
Website »

More information

In our 4-week Beginning Fencing class, you'll learn about the history of Olympic fencing, the three fencing weapons – foil, saber and epee – and the general rules for each of the specific...

Cost: $75

Where:
Southminster Presbyterian Church Community Center
3500 S Peoria
Tulsa, OK  74106
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Fencing Club
Telephone: 918-928-2663
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Woodland Hills Mall is excited to host Beauty Week, which is a unique way for the people in Tulsa to experience all the beauty that Woodland Hills Mall has to offer.  Participating retailers...

Cost: Free and open to the community

Where:
Woodland Hills Mall
7021 S Memorial Dr.
Tulsa, OK  74133
View map »


Telephone: 713-224-9115
Contact Name: Woodland Hills Mall

More information

Featuring more than seventy works by French and European masters such as Degas, Manet, Monet, Rousseau and Van Gogh, this exhibition celebrates Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon’s extraordinary gift...

Cost: $15

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Drive
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: (405) 236-3100
Website »

More information

Experience the sites, sounds and smells of Greece!  The best lil stop in OPA!homa - just off route 66. Live music, dancing, kids zone, Greek food and drink, delectable baked goods, Greek...

Cost: Adults $5/Kids Free

Where:
13th & Guthrie Ave
1222 S. Guthrie Ave

Tulsa, OK  74119
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Greek Festival
Telephone: 918-583-2082
Contact Name: Tonya Boone
Website »

More information

Living Arts of Tulsa will present a multi-media exhibit of Jave Yoshimoto’s work. Intractable Chasm examines the refugee crisis in Greece, experienced firsthand by Yoshimoto when he...

Cost: Free

Where:
Living Arts of Tulsa
307 East Reconciliation Way
Tulsa, OK  74120
View map »

More information

Get moved with Tulsa Ballet! Experience incredible works from the most in-demand choreographers in the world at Creations in Studio K. Tickets start at $25. Read all about the exciting pieces...

Cost: $25 - above

Where:
Tulsa Ballet - Studio K
1212 E 45th Place
Tulsa, OK  74105
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Ballet
Contact Name: Dan Meagher
Website »

More information

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Cost: 15-20

Where:
Tulsa Performing Arts Center
110 E. 2nd St.
Tulsa, OK  74103
View map »


Sponsor: Portico Dance Theatre
Telephone: 918-321-0682
Contact Name: Linda Davis
Website »

More information

Young and old alike will love the cherished story of Alice and her friends performed through original and exciting dance choreography!"Project Alice" is based on Lewis Carroll's “Alice's...

Cost: 15-20

Where:
Tulsa Performing Arts Center
110 E. 2nd St.
Tulsa, OK  74103
View map »


Sponsor: Portico Dance Theatre
Telephone: 918-321-0682
Contact Name: Linda Davis
Website »

More information

In our 4-week Beginning Fencing class, you'll learn about the history of Olympic fencing, the three fencing weapons – foil, saber and epee – and the general rules for each of the specific...

Cost: $75

Where:
Southminster Presbyterian Church Community Center
3500 S Peoria
Tulsa, OK  74106
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Fencing Club
Telephone: 918-928-2663
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

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Cost: $10

Where:
ONEOK FIELD
201 N Elgin Ave
Tulsa, OK  74120
View map »


Telephone: 405-234-7095
Contact Name: Astrid Rodriguez
Website »

More information

Join us for the St. Jude Walk/Run during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in September, to raise money for the kids of St. Jude, where families never receive a bill for anything. Let's end...

Cost: 5K - $20; 1 mile - $10; Ages 5 and under – Free

Where:
ONEOK Field
201 N Elgin Ave
Tulsa, OK, OK  74120
View map »


Sponsor: St. Jude
Telephone: 915-841-9154
Contact Name: Adrian Ordonez
Website »

More information

Featuring more than seventy works by French and European masters such as Degas, Manet, Monet, Rousseau and Van Gogh, this exhibition celebrates Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon’s extraordinary gift...

Cost: $15

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Drive
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: (405) 236-3100
Website »

More information

Woodland Hills Mall is excited to host Beauty Week, which is a unique way for the people in Tulsa to experience all the beauty that Woodland Hills Mall has to offer.  Participating retailers...

Cost: Free and open to the community

Where:
Woodland Hills Mall
7021 S Memorial Dr.
Tulsa, OK  74133
View map »


Telephone: 713-224-9115
Contact Name: Woodland Hills Mall

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
Turkey Mountain
6850 S Elwood Ave
Tulsa, OK  74132
View map »


Sponsor: river parks
Telephone: 918-596-2008
Contact Name: Ryan Howell
Website »

More information

The Home Remodeling Showcase is the premier showcase of newly remodeled homes in Tulsa and the surrounding areas.  Presented by the Remodelers Council of the Home Builders Association of Greater...

Cost: 10

Where:
Spread throughout Metro Tulsa
, OK


Sponsor: Pella Windows of Oklahoma
Telephone: 918-663-5820
Website »

More information

Experience the sites, sounds and smells of Greece!  The best lil stop in OPA!homa - just off route 66. Live music, dancing, kids zone, Greek food and drink, delectable baked goods, Greek...

Cost: Adults $5/Kids Free

Where:
13th & Guthrie Ave
1222 S. Guthrie Ave

Tulsa, OK  74119
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Greek Festival
Telephone: 918-583-2082
Contact Name: Tonya Boone
Website »

More information

Living Arts of Tulsa will present a multi-media exhibit of Jave Yoshimoto’s work. Intractable Chasm examines the refugee crisis in Greece, experienced firsthand by Yoshimoto when he...

Cost: Free

Where:
Living Arts of Tulsa
307 East Reconciliation Way
Tulsa, OK  74120
View map »

More information

Cost: FREE

Where:
Central Park Community Center
1500 South Main Street
Broken Arrow, OK  74012
View map »


Telephone: 918-259-8437
Contact Name: Central Park Community Center

More information

Join us for our second annual Food Truck Frenzy on September 21, from 4-8 p.m., and taste a variety of delicious cuisines from food trucks located in our riverfront backyard. Families can enjoy...

Cost: Adults $17.95, Children 3yrs-12yrs $13.95 Military and Seniors(62+) $13.95

Where:
Oklahoma Aquarium
300 Aquarium Dr
Jenks, OK  74037
View map »


Telephone: 918-528-1507
Contact Name: Liz Medrano
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Fundraising concert featuring popular Christian rock band Sanctus Real benefiting Circle of Care's three programs: state-wide foster care, transitional living for single mothers with children...

Cost: 20.00

Where:
Venue 68
6910 S. 101st E. Ave.
Tulsa, OK  74134
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Sponsor: Circle of Care
Telephone: 405-215-1400
Contact Name: Sarah Steffes
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Benefiting the Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club of Broken Arrow Cosplay contest and silent auction. Fan made 1966 Batmobile on display. Food provided by Charlies Chicken, Panera and drinks...

Cost: $10, 12 and under FREE

Where:
1400 W. Washington St.
Broken Arrow, OK  74012
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Telephone: 918-406-9341
Contact Name: Sean Henry
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Circle of Care and popular Christian Rock band Sanctus Real are teaming up on September 21, 2019, to raise funds for Circle of Care’s three nonprofit programs. Band member...

Cost: Tickets start at $20

Where:
Asbury United Methodist Church's Venue 68
6910 S. 101 E. Ave.
Tulsa, OK  74133
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America’s LARGEST interactive comedy murder mystery dinner show is now playing at the Hilton Garden Inn Tulsa Broken Arrow! At The Dinner Detective, you’ll tackle a challenging crime while you...

Cost: 59.95

Where:
Hilton Garden Inn Tulsa- Broken Arrow
420 W Albany St.
Broken Arrow, OK  74012
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Telephone: 866-496-0535
Contact Name: The Dinner Detective
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Get moved with Tulsa Ballet! Experience incredible works from the most in-demand choreographers in the world at Creations in Studio K. Tickets start at $25. Read all about the exciting pieces...

Cost: $25 - above

Where:
Tulsa Ballet - Studio K
1212 E 45th Place
Tulsa, OK  74105
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Sponsor: Tulsa Ballet
Contact Name: Dan Meagher
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Young and old alike will love the cherished story of Alice and her friends performed through original and exciting dance choreography! "Project Alice" is based on Lewis Carroll's...

Cost: 15-20

Where:
Tulsa Performing Arts Center
110 E. 2nd St.
Tulsa, OK  74103
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Sponsor: Portico Dance Theatre
Telephone: 918-321-0682
Contact Name: Linda Davis
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Young and old alike will love the cherished story of Alice and her friends performed through original and exciting dance choreography!"Project Alice" is based on Lewis Carroll's “Alice's...

Cost: 15-20

Where:
Tulsa Performing Arts Center
110 E. 2nd St.
Tulsa, OK  74103
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Sponsor: Portico Dance Theatre
Telephone: 918-321-0682
Contact Name: Linda Davis
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Whether you prefer Borg nanoprobes to Midichlorians, the Justice League to the Avengers, or Terminators to Daleks, don't let anyone force you into boldly going where no one has gone...

Cost: $8.00 ($4.00 for children under 12)

Where:
pH Community House
306 S Phoenix Ave
Tulsa, OK  74127
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Sponsor: Laughing Matter Improv
Contact Name: Jerry Henderson
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In our 4-week Beginning Fencing class, you'll learn about the history of Olympic fencing, the three fencing weapons – foil, saber and epee – and the general rules for each of the specific...

Cost: $75

Where:
Southminster Presbyterian Church Community Center
3500 S Peoria
Tulsa, OK  74106
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Sponsor: Tulsa Fencing Club
Telephone: 918-928-2663
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Where:
Veterans Park
1811 S Boulder Park Dr
Tulsa, OK
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Get wined and dined at the first annual Tulsa Beer & Wine Festival. Stroll through our landscape gardens and treat your taste buds to exquisite food pairings with local and national craft...

Cost: TBD

Where:
Gathering Place Great Lawn
2650 S. John Williams Way E.
Tulsa, OK  74114
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What's New


Oklahoma's Best-Sellers: Sept. 15

Based on total number of book sales at Magic City Books, Best of Books in Edmond, Brace Books and More in Ponca City, and Full Circle Bookstore in Oklahoma City.

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Branjae on the sixth sense, the street light and empowerment

A Q&A with the singer/songwriter, who just released a new single: “Street Light.”

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Oklahoma's Best-Sellers: Sept. 8

Based on total number of book sales at Magic City Books, Best of Books in Edmond, Brace Books and More in Ponca City, and Full Circle Bookstore in Oklahoma City.

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Cosplay, celebs and plenty of pop culture

TulsaPeople intern visits for the first time the annual Wizard World Tulsa comic-con

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3.03: Order Up -- Johnna Hayes

A conversation with Johnna Hayes, operating partner of 3 Sirens Restaurant Group.

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