Students from Bryant and Red Oak Elementary Schools looked on as Gov. Brad Henry put his signature on Senate Bill 4 which names Selenite as Oklahoma’s official state crystal. The ceremonial signing took place at the State Capitol on Wednesday.
While Sen. Kathleen Wilcoxson carried the legislation, she explained the students from the Moore School District’s gifted and talented program, Students Experiencing Appropriate Research and Creative Happenings (SEARCH) actually came up with the idea.
“They researched it and came to me with the request that I carry the legislation. They not only learned a lot about geology and geography but they’ve gotten a real hands-on lesson about government. I’m happy they were able to see their idea become a reality and be here at the Capitol for the signing,” Wilcoxson said.
Wilcoxson’s co-authors on the measure included Sen. David Myers, R-Ponca City, Rep. Paul Wesselhoft, R-Moore, and Rep. Jeff Hickman, R-Woodward.
During the ceremony, the students presented Gov. Brad Henry with a Selenite paperweight as well as a necklace for First Lady Kim Henry.
Red Oak sixth-grader Addi Ellis was among the students at the Capitol for the bill signing. She said the idea came about after their SEARCH group took a field trip to the Great Salt Plains.
The Selenite found there is a crystallized form of gypsum which takes on the characteristics of its environment. Iron oxide in the soil gives the crystals their reddish to chocolate brown color and the sand and clay particles included within the crystal often form a unique hourglass shape.
Ellis said the students at first wanted to make Selenite the state’s official gemstone—but during the legislative process the measure was amended to make it the state’s official crystal instead. She said the students were reluctant to change their legislation at first but through the experience learned about the give and take involved in getting a bill through the legislature—and ultimately getting it signed into law.
“That was really cool. I didn’t know how all that worked…it was a neat experience,” said Ellis.