The Van Buren Chamber of Commerce Education Committee, in conjunction with the Van Buren School District, will honor the 2017 VBHS Arkansas Scholars on April 17.

The annual Arkansas Scholars Banquet will take place in the Van Buren High School Commons Area and will include dinner and a special program honoring the well-deserving graduates.

Arkansas Scholars is a prestigious distinction given only to graduates who have acheived a 95 percent or better attendance record in their four years of high school. The students must also have a “C” or higher average, and have completed all of the required courses to graduate in four years. Each Scholar is presented with a certificate at the banquet and awarded a medallion to wear at graduation.

This year’s event will feature Jiajing Thach as its keynote speaker. Using his background as inspiration, Thach will focus on “Educators, Parents, and Peers: Recognizing Your Mission Support Element.”

Thach is a 2003 Van Buren High School Alumni, who has devoted his post-secondary career in service to his country. Jiajing graduated from the prestigious West Point Military Academy and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army. He completed flight training at the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and was deployed to Afghanistan in 2010.

While overseas, Jiajing conducted 128 combat flight missions. A decorated veteran, Jiajing has been honored with both Army Commendation and Achievement Medals, the National Defense Service Medal, the NATO Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Campaign Star, and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal. Having completed active duty service at the rank of Captain, Jiajing will now attend law school at the University of Arkansas beginning in the fall.

A limited number of sponsorships are available, beginning at the $300 level. Each tier varies in price and marketing benefits. Sponsorship dollars help underwrite the cost of the student medals and the Van Buren Chamber of Commerce’s annual senior scholarship.

For more information, call the chamber at (479) 474-2761.