Multiple speakers lauded the efforts of this year’s Arkansas Scholars at Van Buren High School and encouraged them to continue on their exemplary path to make a difference in future endeavors.

Keynote speaker Jiajing Thach, a 2003 graduate of Van Buren High School, challenged the students to cherish their last few weeks at VBHS.

He noted the Arkansas Scholars had worked harder to achieve better results, a characteristic he said was an important part of learning.

“Be proud of what you have accomplished,” Thach said. “And, continue to achieve, serve and chase your dreams.”

Arkansas Scholars is a prestigious distinction given only to graduates who have achieved 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.

Van Buren Mayor Bob Freeman pointed out the students’ ability to show up will remain with them for the rest of the lives.

“You can take that talent to find your passion,” Freeman said. “Go where you are called and directed. This is only one stop on your journey to make a difference where ever you may be.”

The Van Buren Chamber of Commerce Education Committee, in conjunction with the Van Buren School District, hosts the Arkansas Scholars Banquet.

Presenting sponsors for this year’s banquet were Arkansas Tech University - Ozark Campus and University of Arkansas - Fort Smith.

Both Bruce Sikes, chancellor at ATU - Ozark, and Dr. Paul Beran, UAFS chancellor, said Arkansas Scholars are the type of students both universities hope will attend their institutions.

“These students are worthy investments in the Van Buren community,” Sikes said.

Beran said Arkansas Scholars have what it takes to graduate from college and be successful in life.

“The Van Buren School District sends us great students every year,” Beran said. “You are now on a good path to accomplish something … make your life the best it can be.”

Dr. Harold Jeffcoat, superintendent of the VBSD, said the Arkansas Scholars Banquet is one example of the school district’s partnerships with the community which makes the VBSD a success.

“These students have shown perseverance,” Jeffcoat said. “They did not choose an easy path which leads to disappointment.”

Each scholar was presented with a certificate at the banquet and awarded a medallion to wear at graduation on May 16.

This year’s Arkansas scholars are:

Emilee Aaron, Joshua Aden, Luis Aguilar, Taylor Ajtun, Anakaren Alarcon, Alexis Ansbro, Martiny Aphay, London Barlow, Ashley Beaver, Beau Beckner, Bryan Bell, Jay Bell, Mayleena Benham, Braylee Berry, Allison Bonds, Taylor Boyle, Harmon Brush Brammer, Jordan Brodie, Payton Bromley, Ashley Brownlow, Katlyn Bruso, Christian Burcham, Alexandrea Burney, Stacie Bynum, Diana Castillo, Connor Catron, Alison Centeno, Lauren Cervantes, Katie Chenoweth, Caleb Christensen, Raven Clark, Mikayla Conley, Jaelyn Cooper, Betsy Corona, Maxwell Criswell.

Also, Katie Damas, Natalie Davis, Norman Davis, Tannor Davis, Madison Diaz, Ethan Elliott, Hayden Ellis, Alexis Engel, Luis Espinosa, Keley Estrada, Cameron Fergeson, Logan Fergeson, Kaitlyn Finch, Sara Flurry, Taytelan Freeman, Nicholas Friend, Peytin Garrett, Raegan Giberson, Gregory Gladden, Priya Gopal, Amber Gordon, Maycee Grebe, Cade Gregory, Bailee Griffiths, Sydney Grizzle, Jeanie Guo, Peyten Harden, Kate Harvey, Karsten Hatton, Kindsey Haynes, Samantha Hester, Ashleigh Hightower, Kayla Ho, Jason Hoang, Cameron Hoffman, Haley Hogan, Ethan Holmes, Cassidy Howard, Kade Huckabee.

Also, Jennifer James, Jessica Jenkins, Halie Jennen, Kianna Jimenez, Bailey Jones, Dilon Jones, Ellie Keosengphachanh, Skyler Lambert, Weston Burke Landon, Allison Lemley, Ashley Lewis, Fernando Lopez, Zachary Lopez, Dawson Love, Lynna Luff, Miles Malone, Tiffany Manikham, Krista Marquis, Sarah Marr, Katelyn Mathis, James Mayton, Stephanie McFadden, Macy McGill, Makayla McMillan, Georgia Means, Angie Mejia, Baylor Miles, Brayden Moore, Devin Moore, Mikaela Moore, Macey Moore-Cobley, Harriet Morrison, Terri Morse.

Also, Braylin Neal, Emily Nguyen, Addie Outlaw, Ena Pacheco, Chandler Petray, Harmony Pettigrew, Jackie Phrakousonh, Cesia Pirir, Bret Plunkett, Jenna Poague, Kyle Porter, Andrew Reed, Destiny Releford, Darla Riddle, Jinhui Roberson, Ethan Rogers, Cindy Sackpraseuth, David Schrouf, Madison Seewald, Savannah Selman, Hayden Sexton, Elizabeth Shepley, Adyson Shewmaker, McKennah Sikes, Kennedie Smith, Alani Snowden.

And, Stephanie Sotelo, Devin Sparks, Samuel Steinsiek, Peyton Stell, Angel Stephens, Danielle Stone, Lauren Suggs, Garyn Swilling, Ja’Cory Taylor, Ashlyn Tuck, Jet Turner, Simon Tursky, Payton Wahman, Courtney Walters, John Wasson, Luke Whitlow, Daria Wiederkehr, Catherine Williams, Taylor Williams and Seth Willyard.