The primary colors featured in Farris Hall on the University of Central Arkansas changed from purple to red Saturday as it served as the stage for the 2015 Vilonia High School graduating class.
Honor graduates Brick Cullum and Kelly Teer served as the graduate speakers. Cullum made reference to rainbows and believing them to be God’s promise of a better day. He talked about graduation being as "magnificent" an event as seeing a rainbow. He made reference to the seniors as being a group that have shared "faith and hope."
"It is time for us to become our own rainbows," Cullum said. He encouraged the students to remember where they "come from" and to go forward into life with open minds and eyes.
"It’s time to soar higher than you have ever done before," he concluded.
Teer touched on the students’ journeys from kindergarten to graduation. She encouraged her peers to set good examples for younger students. She encouraged the students to think about when they were younger and to recall when they "looked up" to the seniors at the school.
"We watched and learned from them," she said. "Now others are looking to us."
We need to raise the standards of what it means to be a graduate of Vilonia High School, she said. She encouraged her peers to "let’s go out and meet our goals."
"Let’s be the motivation for the class proceeding us," she said. Today graduate. Tonight celebrate. Tomorrow forge the path that others want to follow, she added. In conclusion, she thanked the parents, teachers and staff.
"Thank you, for not just being here today, but, for being here every day for us all," she said.
Several other students participated in the event. The invocation was given by Kaydra Francis. Kaitlyn Frazier called for the turning of the rings and while Kacy Johnson called for the changing of tassels. Emma French delivered the benediction.
On stage, one seat was empty—the one generally occupied by Jerry Roberts, president of the Vilonia Board of Education. Andy Ashley, high school principal, said Roberts is in the hospital continuing his battle with cancer.
Roberts, well-known to the students and a big supporter of the high school sports, hasn’t missed in a graduation in the past 26 years. It is tradition for Roberts to present the diplomas. In his absence Randy Sanders, board vice-president, filled in.
Serving as the emcee, Ashley read the majority of the names of the names as the students filed on stage. Ronnie Simmons, assistant principal, also helped. There was only a brief mention of the 2014 tornado that affected the lives of the many graduates.
A stranger could only speculate what some students such as, Lauren Morrow, who was severely injured, during the tornado, was thinking. A smile was on her face as she made it across the room.
Afterwards, the new graduates shared their aspirations with others. For instance, Nick Middleton wants to retire from the Army. He has already joined and he is to report to his duty station June 8, and ship out June 9. His young wife, Krystal, is "okay" with it. "It’s about our future," she said.
Keiffer Livezey plans to attend Job Corp and study welding. He plans to weld on pipelines and "make the big bucks."
Micah Allen will attend Arkansas Tech. His focus is on wildlife biology. He said he has discovered a way to "get paid for the things I do on vacation."
Ashley "Buggy" Lyons has her sight set on a career in physical therapy after college. A softball scholarship, the career field, she said, will allow her to remain around athletes throughout her life.
Sidney Kelley plans to pursue a business major with a minor in arts. One of these days, she said, she will open her own event planning business.
Tyler Emmons plans to go to work in his family’s construction business. One of these days, he said, his dad will probably turn the reins over to him.
Jennifer Jackson will be attending UCA walking down the path to becoming a neonatal nurse. It’s been her dream, for a long time, to work with children.
There are 213 students in the graduating class including 47 honor graduates. It was announced this week, the students have been awarded more than $3.3 million in scholarships. In 2014, there were 209 graduating seniors—41 that graduated with honors.