Alva Review-Courier -

Honoring accomplishments, encouraging future graduates


October 10, 2021

Marione Martin

Those attending the Distinguished Goldbugs luncheon enjoyed viewing this large display of Goldbug and Ladybug memorabilia provided by Bruce and Dixie Meyer.

Honorees and guests gathered Friday at noon for a luncheon honoring the 2021 Distinguished Goldbugs. The ACT I Theatre was festively decorated in black and gold including a display of the extensive Goldbug and Ladybug memorabilia collection of Bruce and Dixie Meyer. The Distinguished Goldbug program is sponsored by the Alva Goldbug Education Foundation.

Helping with the luncheon were the Goldbug Ambassadors: Jenna Allen Cristen Bosch, Evan Ferguson, Giuliana Philips, Cynthia Samaniego and Jansen Shirley.

During the morning, Alva High graduates being honored visited the school to talk with students and help them see what people from Alva can accomplish.

Everyone enjoyed the chance to reconnect and catch up so much that emcee Todd Holder had some difficulty calling everyone to their seats at the round tables. Holder introduced "a graduating senior this year, Timothy Argo." He then modified that title to superintendent of schools.

"Thank you for your time today with our students," said Argo. "I can tell your impact with them was far-reaching, and it was a great morning for our kids."

Student Jenna Allen led the Pledge of Allegiance. Lisabeth Richey, whom Holder described as "the mastermind of all the organization that makes this tick," gave the invocation.

Each of the Distinguished Goldbugs was presented with a medal on a lanyard, a gift bag and a yard sign.

Tara Otte Warwick

Tara Otte Warwick is a 1994 graduate of Alva High School. Washington Principal Shane Feely presented her medal. Moving to Alva in her sophomore year, Warwick said, "I loved it because I was able to do a lot of different things and had a lot of people really influence my life."

After Alva High, Warwick attended the University of Oklahoma where she received a Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy, as well as a Master of Science in Rehabilitation Science with the Pediatric Specialty. Earlier this year, she earned a Post-Professional Doctorate in Occupational Therapy from Boston University.

During Warwick's twenty-two years of experience working with children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, she has consulted with schools across Oklahoma addressing challenging behaviors through environmental adaptations. She also co-owns Today's Therapy Solutions.

A grant received in 2017 allowed Warwick to select three schools in the state to better equip teachers in responding to students with autism, as well as establish behavior supports that create better educational outcomes and quality of life for all students. The first year of grant funding included Alva's Washington Early Childhood Center. Her impact there will be felt for many years. The second year of grant funding continued the training with one of the three original schools and Warwick chose Alva Independent School District. Alva educators created Behavior Teams that help support teachers with challenging behaviors in their classrooms.

Constantly advocating for children with autism and their families, Warwick coordinated "Groovin' for Autism", a fundraiser for non-profit organizations in Oklahoma that support autism. She has developed and organized a lifeĀ­saving swim camp for kids with autism. In August, she was a contestant in Dancing for Miracles. Proceeds from the event went to the Oklahoma Autism Center.

Tara and Jonathan have been married twenty-three years and have two children, Hank and Abby. Her parents, Ernie and Verlinda Otte, remain in Alva. Younger sister, Misty Otte Galewek, lives in Texas with her family.

Jon Phelps

A 1978 Alva High School graduate, Jon Phelps was honored in athletics. His medal was presented by former AHS teammate Mike Perkins. Phelps said the Distinguished Goldbug award "really allows alumni to get back involved." His mother passed away this summer, and he learned about his selection on the way home from her funeral.

After graduation from Alva High School, Phelps attended Northern Oklahoma College on an athletic scholarship, earning an Associate of Science in General Business. He then attended Oklahoma State University on an athletic scholarship, where he completed a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. Jon later earned a Master of Science in Management from Louisiana State University. He is a member of the LSU Alumni Association, the O-Club for Varsity Lettermen at OSU, and a life member of the OSU Alumni Association.

In addition to Phelps' position as assistant controller for a Baton Rouge based car wash and convenience store conglomerate, he was an assistant high school basketball coach in Baton Rouge. University Lab High School was the Class 2A state champion in 2002 and 2004. Phelps was named Louisiana's Assistant Coach of the Year in 2004, handling scouting, offenses, defenses, and work with post players. In addition, he coached seven All-District players and a State Defensive Player of the Year. Two of his players received All-State recognition. One player was ranked the #2 player at his position nationally. In only six years of coaching, seven of Coach Phelps' players played at the collegiate level and two are currently in the NBA.

Since coaching, Phelps has held energy-related positions in the state of Louisiana. Some of those positions were Energy Department Manager for Louisiana Housing Finance Agency, Energy Director for Louisiana Association of Community Action Partnerships, Program Manager for National Energy Resources LLC, and Program Manager for CLEA Result Consulting. All these involved budgeting, planning, administration and records maintenance, as well as program design and management and federal, state, and local regulatory compliance.

Phelps also was a private consultant offering advisement, consultation, and research for the non-profit sector regarding Community Development Block Grants. He was instrumental in developing new strategies for implementing Weatherization Assistance and Individual Development Accounts in hurricane-affected areas.

Currently, Phelps is Project Manager for APTIM where he administers Entergy Louisiana's Entergy Solutions programs. Jon manages the commercial and industrial portfolio as well as HVAC programs, School Kits & Education programs, and a manufactured homes pilot program. Entergy Louisiana is the largest utility in Louisiana. Managing the subcontractors and their budgets is also his responsibility.

Amy Williams Chlouber

Amy Williams Chlouber graduated with the AHS class of 1988 and was honored in the humanitarian category. "Throughout my career, the small town life I grew up in has been invaluable," she said. "It's always nice to come home."

Chlouber attended Southwestern Oklahoma State University, earning a Bachelor of Science in Psychology with a Minor in Family Life and Human Development. She also received a Master of Science in Applied Psychology from SWOSU. She has served as board member and president of OK-AIMH, board member and secretary of Canadian County CASA, and is a member of International Loving Touch Foundation.

Chlouber's professional credentials include: supervisor for Licensed Professional Counselors, Infant Mental Health Mentor IMH-E, Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultant, Certified Infant Massage Instructor {CIMI), Circle of Security Parenting Program Facilitator.

Chlouber is a skilled leader with a solid history of systems coordination at community and state levels. She is an experienced manager with a proven history of successful development and implementation of programs, services, and policies. Amy is a seasoned mental health professional with expertise in infant mental health and investment in building competency across the early childhood workforce.

Currently the Early Childhood Services Director with Sunbeam Family Services, Chlouber has also held positions with the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, Oklahoma State Department of Health, Chisholm Trail Counseling Services, and Red Rock Behavioral Health.

Cynthia Gagnon Reeg

Holder said Reeg had been on the selection list before but was unable to attend. This year she and her husband who was also honored intended to be in Alva. Unfortunately, a grandchild's involvement with Covid-19 caused a last minute cancellation of their plans.

Reeg is a 1974 graduate of Alva High School and was selected for her contribution to the arts. Speaking via a previously taped video, Reeg said she moved to Alva in 1971 as a high school sophomore and met her future husband Rob on her first day at AHS. "Alva High School certainly provided me with the impetus for my life's endeavor, and it is with deep appreciation that I accept this award today," she said.

Reeg pursued her love of reading and writing with an undergraduate degree in English literature from Northwestern Oklahoma State University and then a master of library science from the University of Oklahoma. She has worked in the following school and public libraries: Ponca City Public Library, Norman Public Library, University of Oklahoma Library, Shaker Heights (OH) Public Library, and Holy Infant School (Ballwin, MO) Library, where she was the head librarian for over 900 students. During her time at Holy Infant School, Reeg developed educational programs, implemented a computerized reading system, and oversaw the creation and management of a new, expanded school library.

In her free time, she volunteered at several of her sons' school libraries in Kansas and Ohio.

For a number of years after retiring, she volunteered as a reading/homework tutor in the following educational facilities in Missouri and Florida: Rockwood School District, St. Joseph School for the Deaf, All Saints Academy, and Diocese of Venice Youth Development (Bonita Springs, FL).

Cynthia is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators, the American Library Association, and Spooky Middle Grade Authors. In 2016 and 2017, her two middle grade fantasy novels, From the Grave and Into the Shadowlands were published by Jolly Fish Press. Frlom the Grave earned the 2017 ZIA Award for outstanding children's literature from the New Mexico Press Women. Her children's writings have appeared in Highlights, Faces, Ladybug, My Friend, Clubhouse, as well as other newspapers, magazines, and anthologies. Her short story, "The Emily Explosion," was chosen for Blooming Tree Press's 2008 anthology, The Girls. She received the Missouri SCBWl's 2006 Mentorship Award for her middle grade novel, The Slightly Tangled Tales of Jim-Bo Baxter.

Cynthia, a Kansas native, has resided in St. Louis with her husband, Robert, for the last 26 years. Since retiring, they now split their time between southwest Florida and St. Louis. She has two grown sons, Matt and Dan, (both married) and three grandchildren. She enjoys tennis, hiking, art and, of course, reading.

Robert Reeg

Also speaking from a pre-recorded video, Robert Reeg graduated with the class of 1974 and was honored in business. Reeg said he has traveled to six continents and more than 60 countries during his work with several companies. "Alva High School gave me a great foundation for my career, and I'm sure it is giving one to today's students as well," he said.

Reeg serves as the vice-chair of the board of directors of Jewelers Mutual Group. Jewelers Mutual is the leading property and casualty insurer of jewelry stores in the US and Canada, as well as writing more than one million jewelry insurance policies for individual purchases.

Reeg retired from Mastercard in 2017 after 22 years with the company where he led the company's worldwide technology team. As president of Mastercard's Operations & Technology company, he oversaw all software and computer operations, the company's transition to digital, building of the company's strategic processing platform, migration of the global network, creation of MasterCard Labs R&D services, physical and information security, and quality of technology operations at MasterCard. Based in St. Louis, Missouri, he served as a member of the company's Management and Executive Committees and was responsible for more than 6,000 employees/contractors located in 41 countries.

Reeg previously held senior business and technology positions with Sprint Corporation, Cleveland Pneumatic, Totco, and Conoco Oil Company.

In addition, Reeg sits on the board of advisors for Masterclock, Inc and Central Bank of St. Louis. Masterclock is the leading provider of highly accurate timing devices. These devices are used in rocket launches, military equipment, audio/video streaming services, among others. Central Bank of St. Louis is one of the leading financial services companies in the region. The bank has served the community for over 115 years providing retail, commercial, and deposit services to its many customers.

Reeg is also an advisor/investor in Eximius Productions (St. Louis} and Edge (London}. Eximius produces BBQ festivals around the country. Edge provides technology that helps manage esports and video gaming contests, as well as providing insight on influencer marketing campaigns.

Reeg is former chair and served on the executive committee of Junior Achievement of Greater St. Louis. He currently sits on the board of directors of St. Luke's Hospital and is the outgoing chair of the board of trustees for Webster University.

Reeg graduated Alva Senior High School in 1974 and received a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Northwestern Oklahoma State University in 1978. He in the past served in the United States Army Reserve for eight years reaching the rank of captain.

Jeff Brizzolara

Selected in the professional division, Jeff Brizzolara is a 1983 graduate of Alva High School. His medal was presented by Dr. Kay Decker. About speaking with the students, he said, "You could see it in their eyes. They've got big things ahead of them."

After graduating from Alva High School, Brizzolara earned a bachelor's degree in psychology from Southern Methodist University, a master in health promotion from the University of Oklahoma, a master in healthy policy and management from Texas A&M Health Science Center, a master of business administration from Texas Women's University, and a Ph.D. in health rducation from Texas A&M University.

Professional awards include Wellness Ambassador of the Year, Top 10 Health Promotion Professional, Outstanding Alumni of Texas A&M University and Outstanding Alumni of Texas A&M School of Public Health. Jeff serves on boards and committees for Texas A&M School of Public Health, Southern Methodist University, International Medical Wellness Association, Health Education Resource Organization, Willis North America, and Wellness Councils of America. His work has been published and presented for Virgin Pulse Blog and Webinar, BenefitsPro, Human Resource Executive, HUFFPOST, and Employee Benefit News, to name the most recent.

For the past 15 years, Brizzolara's work has centered on health and wellness organizations. He was chief operating officer for Elite Wellness USA, a start-up wellness company. As chief clinical officer for Virgin Pulse (formerly SimplyWell), Brizzolara developed an industry-leading condition management program focusing on 22 chronic health conditions. He is currently the chief operating officer for Wellthy. As such, he leads global operations for the nation's preeminent care coordination organization, include oversight of teams, training, quality assurance, data analytics, and customer support.

Brizzolara is an accomplished and visionary executive with an entrepreneurial mindset, adept at leading the operations and staff of digital well-being and healthcare organizations. He is known for contributing a strong work ethic and collaborative spirit to his work. Jeff brings a blend of hospital and corporate health leadership experience, education credentials and Six Sigma training to lead businesses to creative solutions that drive best-in-class service, profitability, and sustainable results.

Mark McDaniel

AHS 1982 graduate Mark McDaniel was selected for the philanthropy award which was presented by Todd Holder. He said he didn't feel worthy of the honor. "Basically everybody in this room could receive that same award."

During his time with students that morning, McDaniel said, "I told them that being from Alva, you have every single thing you need if you ever want to learn how to give back to Alva."

Born and raised in Alva, Mark played football, basketball, baseball and ran track for the Goldbugs. He went on to the University of Oklahoma where he obtained a bachelor of business administration and his Juris Doctor. When he's not working, he loves to watch his kids play sports.

McDaniel started Cleats for Kids in 2011 with his wife Stacy. Cleats for Kids is an Oklahoma not-for-profit corporation that equips and empowers kids through sport and philanthropy. C4K has distributed 175,000 items to 125,000 kids and collaborates with community partners and schools to serve kids, including 225 school districts and 60 nonprofit organizations across Oklahoma. C4K has also established Varsity Board and Junior Varsity Board that engages 150 high school and middle school kids from 30 Oklahoma City metro schools in sports-related community service.

McDaniel is currently Senior Counsel for Devon Energy Corporation. He has taught environment law at both Rose State College and the University of Oklahoma. An AV rated lawyer by Martindale-Hubbell, McDaniel is a member in good standing of the Oklahoma Bar Association and licensed to practice in all the state courts in Oklahoma. He's also a member in good standing and admitted to practice in the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit and U.S. District Court for the Western and Northern Districts of Oklahoma.

Awards and leadership include the OBA Alma Wilson Award for a member making a significant contribution to improving the lives of Oklahoma children; Fellow of the Litigation Counsel of America; Journal Record Leadership in Law Award; President, Vice President, Secretary/Treasurer of Oklahoma City Mineral Lawyers Society; Fellow of the Oklahoma Bar Association; Rotary Club of Oklahoma City; Legal Aid of Western Oklahoma; and Habitat for Humanity.

Mark and Stacy have three children and are active in church. He has coached youth baseball, soccer, football, and basketball.

Alva Goldbug Education Foundation

Alva Goldbug Education Foundation (AGEF) President Jeff McAlpin spoke about the purpose of AGEF in giving back to the community. In the early years, the AGEF fund was handled locally but it is now part of the Communities Foundation. Donated funds are invested, and the interest is used for awards and scholarships.

McAlpin said the investment fund has now reached $994,870, less than $6,000 shy of $1 million. "I just think it is amazing that Alva is willing to give that much back," he said.

Marione Martin

The 2021 Distinguished Goldbugs are honored Friday during a luncheon at ACT I Theatre in Alva. From left are Jeff Brizzolara, professional; Mark McDaniel, philanthrophy; Jon Phelps, athletics; Amy Williams Chlouber, humanitarian; and Tara Otte Warwich, education. Cynthia Gagnon Reeg, the arts, and Robert Reeg, business, were unable to attend.

The fund provides a little over $43,000 to award each year. The AGEF gives mini-grants to Alva teachers who apply. "Over the last five years, we've been able to give every single applicant money," McAlpin said. The AGEF also provides 13 endowed scholarships and one custodial grant.

Distinguished Goldbug Faculty Stipend

Dr. Kay Decker introduced a new program, the Distinguished Goldbug Faculty Stipend award. "Every year we have faculty who put in lots of time and effort to develop and implement elevated learning opportunities for Alva students," she said. The award is intended to "provide faculty with a little extra financial support to take that extra time."

Decker said the first applications will be taken this spring with one or two awards being given in May. The programs are then to be implemented in the following school year. Decker said these are to be quality programs, not available in the standard curriculum.

The funding for this program is separate from AGEF and is intended to come from those honored as Distinguished Goldbugs. Holder added that this is a direct stipend. The money will not be "stuck in a fund someplace."

A video of the program may be seen at


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