Graduation Day Arrives

Thursday, May 19, 2016
The view from the stage as Anna McMillon presents her valedictorian address during Sunday's PHS graduation.(TD photo/Tim Blair)

A large group of well-wishers packed the Piggott High School gym the afternoon of Sunday, May 15, as the members of the class of 2016 took part in commencement exercises. This spring, a larger-than-normal group of 77 seniors took part in graduation ceremonies to the delight of the large crowd, which included family, friends, staff and administrators.

Members of the PHS band performed Elgar's "Pomp and Circumstance" as this year's class was escorted into the gymnasium and took their seats. The first speaker of the afternoon was 2016 valedictorian, Anna McMillon.

Following the valedictorian's address, senior members of the Piggott High School band joined their fellow musicians one final time in performing a special selection under the direction of Jeremy Wortham.

Anna McMillon delivers her valedictorian's address during PHS graduation.(TD photo/Tim Blair)

Up next was the address of salutatorian, Tyler Peters.

In keeping with tradition, scholarships and awards were then distributed to the class members. The PHS Class of 1965 scholarships were distributed by former high school teacher Regina Crittenden; the Gaylon Lawrence Memorial Scholarships were handed-out by Barbara Batey, president of Piggott Community Sharing Hearts, and the Clay County Arts Council scholarships were presented by Tracy Cole.

PHS counselors Amber Harrell and Faith Conley, then proceeded to hand out the remainder of the scholarships to the class members. The scholarship recipients, and their awards, were as follows--Joey Simpson was recognized as an honor graduate, was recipient of the Ryan Pounds Memorial Scholarship, a $500 Renaissance J.B. Swift Memorial Scholarship and a four year A-State Pride Scholarship in the amount of $27,880. Nicholas Harris was recognized as an honor graduate and with a top 10 award. He was also recipient of the Farm Credit Scholarship, MFA Scholarship, Arkansas Challenge, a four year A-State Pride Scholarship in the amount of $26,880, the $1,000 Clay Conservation District Scholarship, $400 Piggott Elementary School Faculty Scholarship and a $250 Class of 1965 Scholarship. Breanna Shaw was recognized as an honor graduate, and was recipient of an Arkansas Tech Distinguished Scholars award of $4,500 per semester, Academic Challenge Scholarship good for $1,000 the first year, $4,000 the second and third year and $5,000 the fourth year, the Dr. B.B. Layl Memorial Scholarship and a $300 Lions Club Scholarship. Allison Moffitt received a $100 Art Club scholarship. Holly Boyd was an honor graduate and received a top 10 award, was recipient of a $50 Art Club scholarship, $300 Leland Sells Memorial Scholarship and a $250 scholarship from the PHS Class of 1965. Quinton Mauldin was an honor graduate and received a top 10 award. He was also recipient of an RIT Grant for $15,300, RIT Presidential Scholarship for $15,000, and an additional $11,865 in grants and scholarships. He was also presented with a $400 Piggott Elementary School Faculty scholarship. Megan Woodard received the Eastern Star Lodge Scholarship. Reese Gurley was recognized as an honor grade and with a top 10 award. He also received the JoAnn Barlow Memorial Scholarship and a $500 Piggott High School Class of 1965 scholarship. Megan Blue was recognized as an honor grad and with a top 10 award. She was also recipient of an Astate Pride Scholarship in the amount of $27,880 over four years and was recipient of the Nucor Educational Award.

PHS salutatorian Tyler Peters addresses the class of 2016.(TD photo/Tim Blair)

Brayden Brewer was recognized as a top 10 and honor grad, and received a $400 Piggott Elementary School Faculty Scholarship. Anna McMillon was valedictorian, an honor grad and received a top 10 award. She also received the English and Business award, and was recipient of an Astate Excellence Scholarship, with a four year total of $36,880. Megan Johnson was recipient of the Visible Music College Talent Scholarship in the amount of $7,000 per year, and is only the second PHS student to earn the distinction. She was also presented with a $2,000 Clay County Arts Council Scholarship and the Joey Pruett Scholarship. Aaron Massey received federal tuition assistance through the Montgomery GI Bill, valued at $29,248. John Copelin was recognized as an honor graduate and with a top 10 award, and received an Astate Promise Scholarship for four years in the amount of $8,000 and an Arkansas Challenge Scholarship. Shelby Morgan was recipient of a $3,800 a year scholarship from Frank Phillips College to be on their rodeo team. Exchange student Denise Cury was presented with a half-tuition scholarship to attend Williams Baptist College and play on their soccer team. Michael Massey was recipient of federal tuition assistance through the Montgomery GI Bill, valued at $29,248. Cody Crittenden was recognized as an honor graduate, was recipient of a $100 Art Club scholarship and received a $2,000 Clay County Arts Council Scholarship. Dillon Horn received federal tuition assistance through the Montgomery GI bill, and Guard Tuition Incentive Program, valued at $56,488. Nathan Gookin was recognized as an honor graduate and received a $100 Art Club Scholarship and a $1,000 PHS Class of 1970 scholarship. Kyle Allman was recipient of an Arkansas State full music scholarship for up to $28,800 for six years, he also received an Arkansas Lottery Scholarship, $500 Arkansas Small Band Scholarship and an Arkansas Promise Scholarship for $8,000. Landon Williams was recognized as an honor graduate and with a top 10 award. He was also presented with a $1,000 PHS Class of 1970 scholarship, the Blake Morgan Memorial Scholarship, a Lottery Scholarship and a $1,000 award for two semesters from the L.D. Rose Family BRTC Foundation. Molly Daffron was recognized as an honor graduate and received a $250 American Red Cross Blood Services scholarship. Ashlee Vaughn accepted a scholarship to Three Rivers College in their cheer program. Rocky Blades was recipient of an Astate Promise Scholarship for four years in the amount of $8,000. Beau Jett was recognized as an honor grad, received the $250 Kent Greene Memorial Scholarship and an Astate Promise Scholarship for four years amounting to $8,000. Matthew Williams received a $200 Early Bird Scholarship from Crowley's Ridge College and a $1,000 Christian Service Scholarship, also from CRC. Madison Crittenden was recognized as an honor graduate, received a $250 FBLA Service Scholarship and was recipient of an Astate Pride Scholarship for four years amounting to $26,880. Bailey Fry was recipient of a $100 Art Club Scholarship. Devyn Staples was also presented with a $100 Art Club scholarship and was recognized as an honor graduate. Payton Wilson was recipient of the $500 Matthew Brown Memorial Scholarship and a $100 Art Club scholarship. Logan Dixon received a $2,500 Harding Academy Scholarship, $3,000 Harding Freshman Scholarship, $3,000 Harding Arkansas Challenge Supplemental Scholarship, Arkansas Challenge Scholarship, a $50 Art Club scholarship and a $400 Piggott Elementary School Faculty Scholarship. MaKalia Beck received an athletic scholarship from Crowley's Ridge college amounting to $2,624 a year for four years, totaling $10,500. And, salutatorian Tyler Peters was recognized as both a top 10 grad and honor student. He received a $400 FBLA Leadership Scholarship, $1,000 Clay Conservation District scholarship, the Beta Club scholarship, Spanish Club scholarship, $500 Dan Barnhart Memorial Future Business Leader Scholarship, $1,000 Tommie Butler, Who's Who in FBLA, $1,000 Hettie Lou Martin State Advisor Award, $400 Mary Alice Elam Scholarship, $500 Arkansas ACTE J. Marion Adams Scholarship, $1,000 Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame scholarship and an Arkansas Tech University Second Century Scholarship good for $2,550 per semester, for eight semesters, for a total of $20,400.

Afterward, members of the PHS school choir performed a special selection, "One Call Away" under the direction of Ellen Meadows.

Next, the diplomas were handed out to the graduating class as they were announced by PHS Principal Barry DeHart. Distributing the diplomas were school board president Jeff Benbrook and board secretary Bradley Dunlap.

Guest speaker Cole Thomas addresses the senior class during graduation.

After the diplomas were distributed Superintendent Charlie Powell presented the class.

Afterward, the classmates joined together in singing the PHS Alma Mater, then took part in the tradition of throwing their mortar board hats into the air in celebration. The assembled class of fresh graduates then exited the gym as the band played the recessional.

Meanwhile, a total of 57 Marmaduke seniors walked onto the gym floor in front of a crowd of more than 300 family members and friends for the last time Sunday.

Eight of the students graduated with honors. Bailey Williams opened the ceremony by commenting on the caring faculty and administration in the district. Lucas Dixon delivered the invocation in which he asked God to watch over the senior class as they pass into the next chapter of life.

Salutatorian Emma Morton spoke of God's inspiration during her speech. Valedictorian Arielle Griffin reminisced about the years spent at MHS with her peers.

Entertainment was provided by the Marmaduke High School Choir singing "Lean on Me." Rector graduate Cole Thomas was the featured speaker at the ceremony. Thomas challenged the graduating seniors not to listen to people's advice, but instead to make their lives' their own adventure.

Superintendent Tim Gardener and school board president Jason Weatherford presented the graduates diplomas followed by Edna Johnson and Tia Bopp presenting a cap and gown to the family of Trevor Potter.

Potter would have graduated this year, but died in a drowning accident at age 17 in 2014.

Gardner presented the class of 2015 and Edna Johnson, Arianna Wyatt, Laci Bishop, Anna Carey, Luise Kindervater, Samantha Morris, Emma Morton, Danielle Parker, Taylor Retherford led the audience in the MHS alma mater to close the ceremony.

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