Conway High School’s graduating class of 2010, 555 strong, was the first ever to receive their diplomas out of town.

The school has outgrown all local facilities, as far as graduation ceremonies go, Conway School District Superintendent Dr. James Murry said. In recent years each graduating senior has been issued a number of tickets, and could invite only a handful of family members and loved ones to see them walk across the stage and take their diplomas.

Little Rock’s Verizon Arena provided this year’s solution to the seating problem, and those who thought that the decision to move the graduation to the 18,000-seat arena was overkill would do well to note that those arriving late found themselves climbing way up into the "cheap seats."

Of the 555 graduates, 155 graduated with honors. About $5 million in scholarship money was awarded to the Class of 2010’s students, and the class yielded five national merit scholarship semi-finalists: Tammy JoAnn Barnes, Ryland James France, Sara Lynn Hales, Edith Marie Jordan and Joshua Robert Bruce Smith. 

The commencement address was given this year by graduate Ann Catherine Corbitt, the highest-performing of the 51 students graduating with highest honors.

Corbitt told her class that she had shared many of their good times and many of their tragedies, and that it was from the latter that the class should have learned the most. Character is built upon overcoming hardship, she said, urging her class to rise to the challenges they’ll encounter along their path, and also urged them to "do something about it" when faced with a system of hardship oppressing others and "fight the good fight with every ounce of our beings."

Jim Davidson, recipient of this year’s Conway School Board Distinguished Service Award in recognition of his Bookcase for Every Child program, told the students that they need to abhor the "I’ll never open another book again" attitude among a small percentage of graduates, and told them that the most successful people, in his experience, all share the trait of being avid readers.

(Staff writer Joe Lamb can be reached at 505-1238 or by e-mail at Send us your news at