On May 28, 33 Phillips County seniors representing Barton, Central, and Marvell High Schools were recognized at the 2015 Arkansas Scholars Senior Banquet at Phillips Community College of the University of Arkansas.

On May 28, 33 Phillips County seniors representing Barton, Central, and Marvell High Schools were recognized at the 2015 Arkansas Scholars Senior Banquet at Phillips Community College of the University of Arkansas.

Each of the Arkansas Scholars present was awarded a certificate of achievement for meeting the designated criteria. Additionally, the honorees and their family members were treated to dinner, a keynote speech, and a drawing for scholarships and prizes.

“This is the first class of Arkansas Scholars to graduate in Phillips County,” said Doug Friedlander, executive director of the Phillips County Chamber of Commerce. “We could not be more proud of their accomplishment.” A program of the Arkansas Business & Education Alliance, the Chamber of Commerce spearheads the program in Phillips County. Currently, all four public school districts in Phillips County are participating, with KIPP Delta’s first class of Arkansas Scholars set to graduate in 2017.

“We were especially excited about the support we got from our Chamber members,” said Chamber Director of Programs Kathleen Quinlen. “They went out of their way to show their appreciation for these graduates’ efforts over the past four years.”

Blackhawk Warehousing & Leasing Co, Double Quick Inc., Enviro Tech, H&M Lumber, Mu Chi Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and Southern Bancorp contributed $2,750 in scholarships that were given away as part of a drawing. Additionally, students had a chance to win one of two tablet computers donated by Double Quick, and any student present who did not win a tablet or scholarship was given a $20 Double Quick gift card.

PCCUA provided the facilities for the banquet, and Walmart and Hays donated food, which was prepared by Tommy Young at no cost. Thrive provided photography services throughout the event.

“We couldn’t have done this without generosity of these businesses and organizations,” said Quinlen.

State Representative Chris Richey addressed the crowd as the keynote speaker of the evening. "You all have made investments in yourselves," Richey reminded the Scholars. "And we expect that investment will pay dividends for years to come." He went on to encourage the high-school graduates to not only continue to invest in their own education and development but also that of younger children in their communities.

The Arkansas Scholars program was established to encourage and reward academic achievement among the state’s high schools. The Chamber works with four high schools in Phillips County (Barton-Lexa, Helena-West Helena, KIPP Delta, and Marvell-Elaine) to help implement the program’s goals and objectives.

In order to be designated an Arkansas Scholar; a student is required to meet four individual criteria in grades nine through 12:

• Attendance (95 percent or better)

• Grades (semester grades no lower than a C)

• Commitment (complete high school education in eight consecutive semesters)

• Curriculum (three years of science and social sciences and four years of English and math)

The Arkansas Scholars Class of 2015 for Phillips County includes:

Barton High School

Destinie Bolin, Rowland Brothers, Serena Clark, Peyton Fryer, Jared Hill, Tyler Jarrett, and Mallory Williams

Central High School

Jasmine Davis, Kevin Franklin, Shunwolisa Green, Tyra Hampton, Keith Hayes, Dominique House, Amber Jackson, Jasmine Johnson-McClinton, Christian Mims, Emanuel Reed, Andre Roddy, Breanna Scott, Marcedes Shields, Keyshawn Simpson, Dekeethion Smith, Jay'la Smith,

Keisha Stevenson, Majesty Tate, Ladasha Wade, Kaylin Walker, Donterius Webster, and Pauleaner Williams

Marvell– High School

Mark English Jr., Freddonia Gordon, Jameka Lowery, and Candace McKnight 

In addition to its primary focus on working with existing businesses to preserve and create new jobs, the Chamber makes long-term community investments in education, civic leadership development, and improving the perception of the community through the development and dissemination of positive regional and national press.