Holt receives Patriot Auto Student Leader of the Year

Michael D. Smith
The Daily Ardmoreite
Isaiah Holt holds the keys to his new car moments after winning the 2021 Patriot Auto Student Leader of the Year award. Tatton Manning, left, and Seth Knighton, right, of Patriot Auto Group joined award finalists on stage during the Ardmoreite All Star Preps Best of the Arbuckles awards banquet Tuesday, May 25, 2021.

Norman to Washington, D.C., is a more than 1,300 mile drive but Isaiah Holt will have a brand new car to drive to college as the newest Patriot Auto Student Leader of the Year. The former Oklahoma School for the Deaf student won the prestigious award and new car last month for his leadership, community service, academic and athletic achievements. 

“I don’t have one and I have a single mother,” Holt said through an American Sign Language interpreter. He said his family has only one car that was recently broken down.  

“So to have a new car I will be able to have one, otherwise I wouldn’t have a vehicle when I go to college.” 

The recent Oklahoma School for the Deaf graduate will soon attend Gallaudet University and was one of over 50 seniors from southern Oklahoma high schools nominated for the award’s fifth year. Administrators from 15 school districts were invited to nominate two students each month that show leadership and work ethic in academics, sports and community service. 

2021 Patriot Auto Student Leader of the Year winner Isaiah Holt, center, holds the keys to his new car alongside Seth Knighton, left, and Tatton Manning of Patriot Auto Group Tuesday, May 25, 2021.

“It’s about how you support your school, how you support your community, how you support your fellow man,” said Tatton Manning with Patriot Auto Group, which provided the vehicle. 

Independent judges selected two candidates, one boy and one girl, each month through the school year until 16 candidates had been named. Those candidates were asked to write an essay and judges then narrowed the candidate pool to five finalists.  

An interview with judges were considered along with essays and nominations to select the top graduating student. The winner was announced during the Ardmoreite All Star Preps Best of the Arbuckles banquet on May 25. 

“We’re looking at that next generation, and when we see how hard our athletes and our students are working, I think it gives us all the confidence that the next generation can go on and do great things,” Manning said. 

Holt attended OSD in Sulphur since 7th grade and the recent graduate remained very active in school organizations including student government, Key Club, FCCLA, and National Honor Society. Holt also proved to be instrumental for OSD athletics as a volleyball manager and standout basketball player. 

He received multiple national honors for his athleticism in high school among fellow deaf or hard of hearing athletes. He was named the 2019-2020 Deaf Digest Player of the Year and the NDIAA Division II Player of the Year. He’s was also named to NDIAA All-American and all-star teams for basketball and cheer. 

When not on the court, Holt spent hours volunteering for food drives and animal shelters. He helped prepare the Chickasaw National Recreation Area for the annual candle walk, raised money for the Little Lighthouse in Tulsa and gathered supplies for first responders, according to his nomination.

The Lawton native and his family moved to Norman several years ago but he attended the Sulphur campus for six years. He said taking the regular weekly bus trips to southern Oklahoma for school has prepared him for dorm life but admitted that the move halfway across the country for college will be difficult. 

“I am (anxious) because I’m used to seeing my family a lot right now. I’m very close to them so moving to another state, that’s probably going to be difficult for me,” he said. 

Holt is among the roughly 71,000 Oklahomans and 4 million Americans who are deaf or hard of hearing. The incoming college freshman plans to continue basketball in college and would like to return to OSD as a P.E. teacher and coach.  

He may also want to study up on car upkeep considering the new car owner is admittedly behind on the subject. 

“I’m going to be honest and tell you I know a few things about it, but probably not the most,” he said.