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Of character: Time has not drained Frances Percival's willingness to serve Millwood Public Schools

Frances Percival

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Photo Provided
Frances Percival Photo Provided - Photo Provided

Frances Percival got to the point.

Frances and her husband, Bill, bought property in the Millwood school district in 1952, before they had children.

But within a few years of making the move, the couple had a daughter and a son.

So, Frances Percival made a commitment to the district. That commitment continues today.

Percival showed up at Millwood school in 1958 and proclaimed, “I’m here to volunteer.”

“I did whatever they needed me to do,” she said. “I ended up serving on the PTA for several years, was a homeroom mother and helped with activities whenever needed. I was one of four candidates for school board in 1970, and I won.

“I’ve had opponents a few other times but have been on the board ever since.”

“Ever since,” as in Percival is 86 and still a member of the school board. She is one of the longest-serving board members in the state, according to the Oklahoma State School Boards Association.

School board recognition

January is designated as School Board Recognition Month in Oklahoma.

When Percival began serving on the board, Millwood didn’t have a high school, she recalled.

“The children of our community were scattered to different schools for high school,” she said. “It’s really amazing what our children have access to now. Our high school students can get college credit — that was absolutely unheard of when I was growing up. We have so many courses and learning experiences we can offer our children now. Our proximity to the OU Health Sciences Center has resulted in many great learning opportunities for Millwood students. Technology has made a difference and opened up so many possibilities for our students.

“We also know how important it is to treat students as individuals and try to meet their unique needs and appreciate their differences.”

Through the years, Percival has gone from volunteering with the school to being part of the school.

What’s the difference in the two?

“I can walk down the halls of Millwood’s high school, and there are many students who are larger than me,” she said. “If I see them doing something they maybe shouldn’t, I just touch their shoulder and suggest maybe that’s not a good idea. They put their arm around me and hug me, and they look at me like I’m their grandmother.

“They appreciate that I care about them and want what’s best for them. I look at them as a grandparent would a grandchild.”

Dedication to Millwood

In addition to her dedication to Millwood, Percival has taught the youth group at her church, served on the Central High School Alumni Association board and on the Oklahoma Commission on Educational Administration. Percival currently serves on the board of the Oklahoma State School Boards Association.

Percival says her home, church and community are the foundation of who she is and “I want to help provide that foundation for today’s children. I want them to have the strong foundation I had.”

Having invested so much time in Millwood — where the Frances M. Percival Media Center at the high school was named for her a few years ago — Percival was asked what she would like students to take from their experience in the district.

“I want Millwood students to know about and appreciate life and show respect for humanity,” she said. “I want them to be well-educated so they can be successful citizens. Citizenship was always a priority when I was growing up, and I still believe it is very important. Our students carry that with them from home to school to the neighborhood and to work.”

Bryan Painter

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