Many decisions will be forthcoming and they will be tougher to make, senior Austin Brown told fellow members of the Vilonia High School Class of 2012.
Commencement exercises were held Saturday on the University of Central Arkansas campus in Conway.
"Some people say they just want to hurry up and get there," Brown said. "Where we end up will be determined by the decisions we make on the journey."
The audience laughed when Brown talked about the less important decisions he and his classmates made as children: How loud to scream, which backpack to buy and which lunch line to enter. Graduates now are at a turning point in their lives, Brown said, and he encouraged classmates to "think" and weigh the pros and cons before making decisions.
Senior Whitney Price spoke of "a 13-year odyssey" that ends with graduation. She mentioned events leading up to graduation and reminisced about senior night and playing the last ballgame.
Time has passed by quickly, she said, adding: "How did it get so late so soon?"
More than 200 graduates crossed the stage. Andy Ashley, VHS principal, and Jason Miller, assistant principal, introduced the graduates. Jerry Roberts, School Board president, handed out the diplomas.
There was thunderous applause and laughter and cameras flashing. Many of the students stopped on the sideline after receiving their diploma to thank teachers. Some gave high fives or voiced their appreciation. Some just flashed a smile. A few had tears in their eyes.
Colored cords identified students as members of academic organizations, for receiving academic awards and for completing a program of study with the Arkansas Department of Career and Technical Education. The 33 honor graduates were recognized by wearing the white stoles.
After the event, students shook hands and there were more flashing cameras. Students visited with family members. Graduate Joseph Jackson took turns posing with generations of his family, including his great-grandfather, Weylon Lyons.
"If I can grow up to be half the man he is, I will have made it in my book," Jackson concluded.
Graduates garnered more than $2.5 million in scholarships and many are headed to various colleges and universities.