2023 Great Graduates to be honored during homecoming week
Every fall, the Broken Arrow High School Alumni Association selects a group of “Great Graduates” who exhibit strong leadership skills and remain dedicated to service within their community, bringing honor to their alma mater through personal and professional accomplishments.
This year, joining the ranks of Broken Arrow’s Great Graduates are Brad Heath, Class of 1990, Ann E. Keele, Class of 1993, Richard Kotarsky, Class of 1986 and David Sutton, Class of 1998.
Each will be recognized during homecoming week.
The Broken Arrow High School Alumni Association was revived in 1999, starting the tradition of the Great Graduates. Nominations are solicited throughout the Broken Arrow community for alumni who have modeled a selfless life of achievement and service to others for at least 20 years.
Brad Heath, Class of 1990
A man described as one who serves his community through commitment, dedication and has a deep love for his country is Brad Heath. He moved into the community as a son of a Marine in charge of the Broken Arrow Duty Station for the Marine Corp and Army. This instilled in Brad an importance of devotion and honor to and for his country.
As a 1990 Graduate of Broken Arrow, Brad continued his education by earning a degree with the University of the Military at the University of Maryland. His military career is quite impressive. He served in the United States Air Force in the Gulf War, stationed at Dover Delaware Air Base, served at the Oklahoma 137th Air National Guard Base and is actively serving at the Tulsa Air National Guard Base of the 138th Fighter Wing.
Brad started his career as a football coach to youth to not only help them learn what teamwork is, but also to be a strong influence to all those he coached. Brad started a free sports recruiting website to help garner the attention of those who perhaps would be overlooked by others in large schools. It was primarily to assist those continuing their education in college for their associated sports. This led to his Career at VYPE High School Sports Magazine, a free publication that covers all sports in high school, including band, cheer and pom. Brad became an advocate for honor and patriotism as a voice for the Jenks Trojan High School Sports family while serving in the military. During this time of service to community, Brad volunteered as President of Jenks Youth Wrestling Club.
As a United States Veteran and man of Valor, Brad has been an inspiration and continued to serve in our community as a board member and docent at the Broken Arrow Military History Center. Brad feels being a docent gives him a platform to share and education people more about the background of our country’s history, and learn how America was established. Working alongside those who have served in many Theatres of battle from our nation’s history, has been extremely rewarding to Brad. He eagerly promotes the Military Banner Projects on Broken Arrow’s Main Street and encourages families of veterans of all branches of the service to honor their family heroes by showing their gratitude and appreciation for their service.
He believes strongly that part of his role in life and sharing American history, especially military history, is to instill in and teach the next generations about why we are Americans and to motivate the youth to make a positive impact on society. Brad knows how important it is to “remember the past and know where and why we have come so far as Americans. With the past, comes a great tomorrow!” We salute this Great Graduate Veteran.
Ann E. Keele, Class of 1993
Judge Ann (Hawkins) Keele graduated from Broken Arrow High School in 1993. During her senior year, Ann played first trumpet as a member of the Broken Arrow Pride marching band. They won the 5A division of the Oklahoma Bandmaster’s Association marching band competition, took first place at the Fiest Bowl Parade, and was selected to represent the State of Oklahoma at the Presidential Inauguration parade in Washington, D.C.
Judge Keele graduated magna cum laude from the University of Texas at Brownsville with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree, and then earned a Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Tulsa College of Law. She was admitted to the Oklahoma Bar in 2006.
When Judge Keele entered law practice she focused on family law, criminal defense and civil rights litigation in state and federal courts in Oklahoma. She was recognized as the 2017 Oklahoma Bar Association’s Family Law Attorney of the Year.
Judge Keele transitioned from private practice to public service by serving as a Special Judge for the Fourteenth Judicial District Court for the state of Oklahoma in Tulsa County from February, 2013 through June, 2023 and presided over four different family and criminal dockets during her tenure. She was recognized as the Oklahoma Bar Association’s Judge of the Year. As a trial lawyer previously for 13 years, she brought a perspective from both sides to better understand difficult situations.
Judicial temperament is another attribute which sets a high bar to obtain, which Judge Keele embodies. Her ability to make each client and attorney feel heard, allows her to efficiently control the courtroom climate.
Judge Keele returned to private practice in July, 2023 by joining Hall Estill as a shareholder in the firms’ family law group. Throughout her career, Judge Keele has been dedicated to helping people and improving the legal community. She has served as President of the Tulsa country Bar Association, President of the Tulsa County Bar Foundation, and Member of the Executive Council for the National Conference of Bar Presidents. She is currently serving as President Elect of the University of Tulsa College of Law Alumni Board.
She mentors students, volunteers at World Outreach Church in Tulsa, and serves on the Susan G. Komen Foundation Executive Council for Oklahoma.
Last month, Judge Keele received the Neil Bogan Professionalism Award from the Tulsa County Bar Association. The award is presented to a lawyer who exemplifies the high ideals of the profession, someone who served the public and clients ethically, diligently and competently. The characteristics of a true professional are exemplified by scholarship, honor, personal integrity, leadership, independence, pride in our system of justice and generous pro bono public service.
Judge Keele and her family have lived in Broken Arrow for more than twenty years. She is married to her beloved husband, Tom. They have a wonderful son, Ryan, a 5th grader at Broken Arrow Highland Park Elementary. Together, they care for Ann’s 92-year-old father who has lived with them for the past 10 years. The whole family adores their labradoodle, Bella.
Richard Kotarsky, Class of 1986
Ric has had a passion for wildlife and the outdoors ever since he was a little boy growing up in Western Pennsylvania, spending most of his time in the woods, discovering new things, and playing for hours in the “cricks.” His family moved to Broken Arrow in 1981 where he finished the school year at Sequoyah Middle School before attending Broken Arrow South Intermediate High School. While attending BAHS Ric was on the football team, track & field, and cross-country team. He was also part of a group of BAHS art class students who were responsible for painting the tiger prints on 101st Street outside of the school, tiger eyes on the press box, and numerous tiger murals in the gymnasium, hallways, and stairwells throughout the school and High School where he served as Art Club president.
After graduation from BAHS, his passion for the outdoors was rekindled in Tulsa when he was introduced to Oxley Nature Center and Red Bud Valley by legendary botanist Paul Buck in the early 90’s. During these field botany outings, both these places became very special for Ric. They continue to provide amazing opportunities for exploring and discovering nature. Ric built upon his passion for wildlife and the outdoors with his college studies and holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Ecology Management from Oklahoma State University and has earned his master’s degree in museum studies and leadership from Oklahoma University. After graduation, Ric worked as a wildlife biologist on a national wildlife refuge as a member of AmeriCorps. He currently is the Curator of Wildlife Conservation and Scientific Advancement at the Tulsa Zoo, where he has worked for 24 years managing wildlife conservation and research programs worldwide in efforts to save endangered and threatened species.
Ric shapes and creates a vision for wildlife conservation to ensure that the Tulsa Zoo’s education programs, interpretive/graphics, and other programs are scientifically accurate and sensitive to wildlife conservation issues. Ric is also very passionate about sustainability and manages the Tulsa Zoo’s solid waste and sustainability programs.
He is dedicated to educating anyone who will listen about wildlife conservation and leads various efforts in the Tulsa community and statewide in monarch conservation and habitat creation for pollinators. He helped create the first-ever community resiliency program called the Monarch Initiative of Tulsa is a steering committee member of the Okies for Monarch State Collaborative and chairs the urban outreach committee for the Oklahoma State Monarch and Pollinator Initiatives program. He is part of a team of volunteers who put on the annual Monarchs on The Mountain festival at Tulsa’s Turkey Mountain and currently at Chandler Park in West Tulsa. Ric is also a part of a collaborative team of local organizations working on the return of an urban developed site to a native Oklahoma prairie called the Crow Creek Meadow located in the Brookside area.
In Ric’s spare time, he is an avid beer brewer and has volunteered since 2000 for the River Parks Authority annual fundraiser the Tulsa Octoberfest fall festival. Ric is chair of the Beverage Committee and manages all the beer operations and the beverage volunteers for the festival.
He loves to share his knowledge and passion for wildlife conservation and encourages everyone to visit places like the Tulsa Zoo, the Oxley Nature Center, and the Ray Harral Nature Center in Broken Arrow, to discover what these amazing places have to offer and to learn how you can get involved in your community with wildlife conservation.
David Sutton, Class of 1998
David has dedicated his life to serving others. While attending Southern Nazarene University, he traveled two separate summers to serve with Youth In Mission. First, he led summer VBS programs for inner-city youth in Washington, DC. Secondly, he worked building relationships with youth and families on Skid Rose in Los Angeles. David received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Tulsa.
After graduating from college, David continued to work with impoverished youth in Oklahoma City through the church and organization, Reaching Our City. He was the Youth Director and in charge of designing summer and yearlong programs.
This desire to have an impact on young lives carried over upon returning to the Broken Arrow community in 2005. David became actively engaged with the YMCA of Greater Tulsa around 2008. He was a volunteer coach for multiple basketball and soccer teams of varying ages and currently continues with youth basketball.
David has served in the role as Youth Sunday School teacher at St. Stephen's United Methodist Church for the past 7 years. In 2017, David began a free basketball program there called Open Gym. The church invited all boys and girls from the community to play basketball and form friendships every Friday evening. Not only did David teach the fundamentals of basketball to two age groups, but also had "team talks" about character traits and life skills. David still serves as a volunteer basketball coach, although Open Gym ended in 2020 due to Covid.
In 2021, David was chosen to be a part of Leadership BA. He was the Project Lead and worked in conjunction with Broken Arrow Neighbors to create job supports for the Broken Arrow community.
David loves gardening, fishing and jujitsu, which he has volunteered to teach the last few years. He also enjoys listening to podcasts about dogs or nature. David is viewed as selfless by many in the community when it comes to serving, empowering and uplifting others, all attributes of a Broken Arrow Tiger. He continues to be a part of Broken Arrow Public Schools as the Director of B&A and the Tiny Tigers Learning Center for the District. He works tirelessly to ensure the safety and well-being of the children that are a part of both programs. He also focuses on building positive relationships with his staff and the families. David is loved and respected by many. He is consistently emphasizing the best in others. His integrity and commitment to what is right is displayed in his actions and words. He is always ready to listen and encourage others. He uses critical thinking and problem-solving skills with others to create the best possible outcomes for the programs in which he is involved and in charge. As a Great Graduate, David is the epitome of a Broken Arrow Tiger.