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W.P. native, long-time educator keynote speaker at Grizzlies Gala  

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West Plains native and long-time educator Dr. Gary Bates will be the keynote speaker at the Missouri State University-West Plains (MSU-WP) “Grizzlies Gala: Promoting Excellence in Athletics” April 8 at the West Plains Civic Center.

The event will begin at 6 p.m. with a catered meal and auction in the civic center exhibit hall. At 8 p.m., the event will transition to the civic center theater where players will be recognized, awards presented and Bates will speak.

“We are thrilled to have one of West Plains’ own to serve as our keynote speaker at the Grizzlies Gala,” said Interim Athletic Director Crockett Oaks. “His life message has always been ‘Opportunity, coupled with hard work and determination, is a differentiator,’ a message that will resonate with our student-athletes and our community.”

Bates graduated from West Plains High School in 1986 after a stellar high school track and field career that included numerous records – three of which stood for 30 years.

After high school, he attended Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas, on a track scholarship. He completed a Bachelor of Arts in History and a Master of Education-Educational Administration and Supervision from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. He received a Doctor of Philosophy-Educational Leadership and Administration from Prairie View A&M University in Prairie View, Texas.

Bates has more than 20 years of experience in public education serving as an instructional aide, professional educator, athletic coach, athletic coordinator, assistant principal and principal.

In May 2014, he was chosen as the superintendent of schools at Goodrich Independent School District in Goodrich, Texas. He is now the superintendent of schools at Fort Sam Houston Independent School District in San Antonio, Texas, a position he has held since August 2018.

Bates also has served as an adjunct professor at Prairie View A&M and at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas.

Tickets for the event are still available at $65 each, or a table for six can be reserved for $400. Proceeds will go toward scholarships and other program needs, organizers said.

To purchase tickets or for more information about the event, visit WP.MissouriState.edu/GrizzliesGala or call 417-255-7923.

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