Two grandsons of one of the founding fathers of the Van Buren School District Education Foundation were among those who were honored at Tuesday night’s Top 40 Banquet at the VBHS Commons.

Bryan and Jay Bell are the grandsons of Jimmy Bell, who along with Paul Gant, came up with the idea for the education foundation, according to David King, VBSD education foundation president.

Both Gant and Jimmy Bell are deceased.

Bryan and Jay Bell are the sons of Edie and Kevin Bell and the grandsons of Sherri Bell and Jim and Carole Williamson, all of Van Buren.

The banquet, held in cooperation with the Van Buren School District, honored the top 40 graduating seniors of the Class of 2017.

Each distinguished scholar recognized a VBSD teacher, coach, principal or counselor who has had a significant positive influence on his or her education and life.

In recognition of the honor, students and teachers were formally recognized at the banquet and students received a personal recognition gift from the foundation.

VBHS principal Eddie Tipton said the Top 40 Banquet is an important and special evening for the graduating seniors.

“This is the night we set aside to recognize our brightest students and the bond they have with their teachers,” Tipton said.

He also praised the parents for their support of the students in their quest “for a great future.”

Superintendent Dr. Harold Jeffcoat pointed out it was a noteworthy accomplishment for the students who made the top 40.

“It took a lot of hard work and late nights for the students and the parents and teachers who supported them to get here,” Jeffcoat said.

Debbie Thomas, education foundation director, encouraged the students “to remember how you got here and who empowered you to get here.” She also challenged the top 40 to be “respectful, thankful and to do the right thing.”

The top 40 and their favorite teachers include:

Milee Aaron, Jeff Belcher; Luis Aguilar, Angie Thompson; Greg Gladden, Andy Williams; Bryan Bell, Laura Rogers; Jay Bell, Sondra Farrar; Harmon Brush Brammer, Joe McClean; Payton Bromley, Joanie Porter; Katlyn Bruso, Heather Dean; Stacie Bynum, Gina Lewis; Katie Chenoweth, Brad Reeves; Max Criswell, Parker Johnson; Katie Damas, Emily Albertson; Natalie Davis, Mari Newby; Kelsey Estrada, Steve Martin; Priya Gopal, Terri Burton; Sydney Grizzle, Leanna Garrett; Samantha Hester, Nathan Almond; Ashleigh Hightower, Summer Cox; Kayla Ho, Janice Lawson; Haley Hogan, Lisa Miller.

Also, Ethan Holmes, David Loyd; Jessica Jenkins, Danielle Ross; Halie Jennen, Paige Hammond; Allison Lemley, Rick Endel; Ashley Lewis, Danielle Trent; Zachary Lopez, Courtney Cochran; Lynna Luff, Drew Deffenbaugh; Angie Mejia, Stephanie Dunn; Baylor Miles, Alecia Jordan; Hattie Morrison, Donna Key; Addie Outlaw, Kara Holland; Bret Plunkett, Teddy McMurray; Jenna Poague, Amber Bryant; Kyle Porter, Kevin Porter; Destiny Releford, Karen Allen; Cindy Sackpraseuth, Brandy Mosby; Alani Snowden, Jerry Brasuell; Jet Turner, Karen Mohr; Courtney Walters, Ashley Carter; and Daria Wiederkehr, Brad Rotert.