The top 40 graduating seniors at Van Buren High School were encouraged to remember how they got where they are and to remember who helped them get there.
"Not everyone gets to stand on the mountain top as you do tonight," said Debbie Thomas, director of the Van Buren School District Education Foundation. "I hope you continue to think outside the box and change the world."
The VBSD education foundation hosted its annual Academic Recognition Banquet in the Commons of VBHS. The banquet, held in cooperation with the Van Buren School District, honored the top 40 graduating seniors of the Class of 2015.
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.
VBHS Principal Eddie Tipton pointed out the school district is very fortunate to have the education foundation to support the "good students and teachers" in the local system.
"It is not like this everywhere," Tipton said.
David King, president of the education foundation board of directors, took a moment to honor Jimmy Bell, a founding father of the foundation, who died Dec. 30.
"We would be amiss to not recognize Jimmy Bell for what he did for the city and the Van Buren School District," said King, who asked for a "great round of applause for a great man rather than a moment of silence."
Thomas noted that each scholar "is a shining star who is here because of your hard work" and encouraged each of them to "never forget you came from Van Buren, Arkansas."
Scholars and honored teachers were:
Gabe Gifford - Karen Mohr; Tanner Wood - Michael Tilley; Scott Perry - Teddy McMurray; Tori Stafford - Stephanie Dunn; Bailey Gossett - Mitzi Davis; Hannah Young - Deena Dunn; Sean Volavong - Mary Beth Duncan; Madeline Quijada - Lonnie Mitchell; Logan Needham - Brandy Mosby; Hannah Howard - Carrie Ball; Callie Chenoweth - Kyle Harwood; Garrett Tatum - Joe McLean; Tristan Smothers - Steve Marion; Chantz Miller - Brad Ball; Jackeline Henriquez - Christie Tipton; Jaden Talley - Tracy Cline; Ana Cruz - Eddie Gatlin; Cade Almond - Greg George; Baylee White - Brenda Taylor; Shaylee Altman - Jerry Don Brasuell.
And, Mattison Griffin - Sherri Lindsey; Bailey Smith - Laura Rogers; Suzette Lopez - Julie Konzelman; Mary Morrison - Robert Rogers; Andrea Konert - Heather Dean; Stacy Guzman - Mandy Ming; Karli Tounzen - Courtney Cochran; Tanner Burns - Ron Lewis; Spencer Rapin - Katie Brown; Connor Skelly - Dustin Chambers; Madison Fouts - Alana Sullivan; Kyle Dasso - Richard Jiminez; Alec Stites - Sherie Cormack; Jason Harms - Myron Hickman; Lauren Smith - Lisa Robinson; Madison Watkins - Mari Newby; Dylan Killough - Hayes Lemley; Lauren Green - Melinda Liles; Alexandra Gillson - Norma Hopwood; and Jacob Perry - Peggy Smith.