Mayor Bob Freeman encouraged the 117 seniors honored as Arkansas Scholars to find their God-given talents, then challenged the Van Buren High School students to make the most of those abilities.
"God has given everyone certain talents," Freeman said. "Find that ability or talent and use it to your utmost."
The Arkansas Scholars were recognized Tuesday at a banquet hosted by the Van Buren Chamber of Commerce in the Commons Area of VBHS.
Presenting sponsor was Arkansas Tech University - Ozark Campus. Additional sponsors will be the Van Buren Chamber of Commerce, Summit Medical Center, Gregory Agency, Lumber One, Citizens Bank & Trust, Arvest Bank, Experian Consumer Direct, Bost and Press Argus-Courier.
Freeman cautioned the seniors not to burn any bridges and to serve their country. He also asked the students to consider making Van Buren their home.
"Some of you know what you are going to do," Freeman said. "Others think they do and some are still trying to figure it out."
The challenge is to recognize opportunities, Freeman said.
"My journey took me to the mayor’s office, a place I never thought I would be," he said. "All of you will have opportunities face you. Grab them and make the most of them.
Arkansas Scholars, started by the Arkansas Business and Education Alliance and sponsored by local chambers of commerce, is centered on academic achievement for a broad range of students. The students are asked to meet a set of criteria that will prepare them for both the workplace and additional education after high school.
One of the requirements of the program is a 95 percent attendance record for all four high school academic years.
Dr. Merle Dickerson, superintendent of the Van Buren School District, said the Arkansas scholars will be great employees because of their attendance records.
"Who would not want to hire one of these kids already?" Dickerson asked. "There are 117 potential hires in this room who will be great workers, cause no problems, who will be there and learn what they need to learn."
Tuesday’s honorees were:
Lori Adams, Dakota Amos, Alexander Ano, Andrew Asplund, Christopher Baldwin, Ashley Barker, Heather Bowman, Lane Breeden, Sean Bricker, Bryce Brown, Mariah Brown, Jenna Burnett, Alexa Burnside, Justin Carter, Raquel Castro, Savannah Cavender, Maria Chomphilath, Wacey Connor, Shaun Cormack, Shelby Cormack, Lauren Criswell, Miranda Croslin, Johnny Cruz, Alexi Cuevas-Herrera, Michael Dasso, Pollet Belgado-Martinez, Brittany Diaz, Rachel Dooley and Kacey Dougan.
Also, Katlyn Fergason, Cody Fink, Helena Fox, Casey Free, Connor Gardner, Lacy Gardner, David Gibbons, Davynn Gifford, Moses Gomez, Cassidy Graham, Roger Clayton Graham, Taylor Grill, Stephanie Guerra, Taylor Harmon, Allison Harrison, Tyler Harshbarger, Eli Hartley, Glenda Henriquez, Taylor Henson, William Henson, Makayla Hill, Elizabeth Hilliard, Hayley Howard, Mason Hull, Julio Ibara, Ashley James, Colt James, Sarah Jenkins, Jessica King and Stephen King.
Also, Erin Lampinen, Jessica Lemus, Melissa Lewis, Theron Wendell Liles, James Lockhart, Cesar Lopez, Michael Lopez, Allison Luedloff, Rachel Mayo, Zackary McClain, Tia McCutchen, Andrew McKee, Zachery McKenna, Rebecca Melton, Jourdan Mendez, Anna Grace Mills, Joseph Mondier, Jordan moore, Logan Moore, Charles Neal, Miranda Newton, David Nichols, Alyssa Outhay, Milagrous Pacheco, Jennifer Parker, Hannah Patterson, Susana Peraza and Alex Phillips.
And, Marzady Phrakousonh, Collin Poole, Quinton Ray, Hunter Ryan, Kurt Wesley Savage, Shelby Sebastian, Jensen Smith, Jacob Smith, Jonah Smith, Luis Alberto Solis, Cassandra Spencer, Drake Stafford, Amber Stephenson, Emily Sullivan, Lauren Tipton, Alleyah Tramel, Spencer Travis, Colton Tucker, Paige Turney, Charles Vongphith, Talon Wagoner, Morgan Walters, Willliam Walton, Sara White, Kinsey Williams, MacKenzie Williams, Faith Wilson, Shayne Wood, Coralee Young and Ashlee Zulch.