PHS Hosts Commencement

Thursday, May 18, 2017
Mortarboard caps fly as the Piggott High School class of 2017 joyfully marks the conclusion of Sunday's graduation ceremony in the PHS gym.
TD photo/Tim Blair

The book closed on a new chapter of Piggott High School history Sunday afternoon, as 53 seniors were presented with diplomas during commencement exercises for the class of 2017. And, although each graduation is special, this year's will likely be remembered as unique—from the log jam of talented students at the top of the class, almost too close to call for valedictorian and salutatorian, to Alyssa Bracken accepting her diploma in a wheelchair, after breaking her leg on the senior class trip. As it should be, it was a day of memories not to be soon forgotten.

Greeted by a large crowd, and the strains of Elgar's “Pomp and Circumstance” performed by the PHS band, the class was led into the gym by junior escorts Luke Boyd and Trey Gossett. The class was then introduced by Piggott High principal Barry DeHart.

The first speaker of the afternoon was valedictorian Hailey Hilfiker, as she offered the traditional address. Hilfiker was named as the top student in the class by a narrow margin, with Kourtney Chadwell as salutatorian. The margin between the top four students was so close it was unclear who would hold down the top spots, and as a result honor graduates Colby Crossfield and Grayson Murray also addressed their classmates.

Following the valedictory address, Mayor Jim Poole handed out the first of the scholarships of the day, representing Piggott Community Sharing Hearts, Inc., and Piggott State Bank.

“It is an honor for me to present two four-year scholarships today in memory of Mr. Gaylon M. Lawrence, Sr.,” he noted. “These annual scholarships are funded by Piggott State Bank and are in the amount of $1,000 per semester, for four years, which equals $8,000 each for two recipients—for a total of $16,000.”

The scholarships in the name of the former Pollard area farmer, and eventual owner of Piggott State Bank, are given in memory of the PHS grad and Mohawk football player, and administered by Piggott Community Sharing Hearts, Inc. The board of directors also chooses the recipients each year.

This year's Gaylon M. Lawrence Memorial Scholarships were presented to Jazzmyne Mills and Grayson Murray.

Afterward, the senior members of the PHS band joined their band mates for the performance of a special selection.

Kourtney Chadwell offered the salutatorian address next, followed by the distribution of scholarships and special awards.

Honor graduates were recognized, and included Hilfiker, Chadwell, Crossfield, Murray, Katie Elizabeth Dobbins, Bret Fuller, Noah Fuller, Abby Haley, Madison Martin, Mills, Elizabeth Pruett-Chavez and Alyssa Taylor.

Beta Honor Grads were also introduced, and included Hilfiker, Chadwell, Crossfield, Murray, Mills, Bracken, Bret Fuller, Haley, Ty Haygood, Jacob Householder, Martin, John William Claburn McHaffey, Jacob James Miller, Brooke Moore, Jillian Marie Noles, Pruett-Chavez, Caleb Gage Riddle, Haylee Danielle Samples, Taylor and Sarah Faith Wikowsky.

Recognized as an Agricultural Science and Technology Completer were Baylor Jase Burkman, Norman Lewis Collins, III, Crossfield, Bret Fuller, Haygood, Householder, Hunter Jackson, Peyton Mann, McHaffey, Miller, Moore, Murray, Pruett-Chavez, Andrew Lloyd Risner and Jimmy Wayne Smith, Jr.

Business and Marketing Technology Completers were Chadwell, Haley, Householder, Madison Martin, McDaniel, Mills, Murray, Riddle, and Taylor.

Completers in Family and Consumer Science were Crossfield, Dobbins, Justin Goding, Haley, Alyssa Harrington, Elizabeth Nicole Hobbs, Tiffany Nicole Hooper, McDaniel, Mills, Ashlyn Brooke Moody, Moore, Noles, Pruett-Chavez, Smith, Taylor and Jaessa Danielle Threatt.

Scholarships and other awards were also handed out, and included—valedictorian Hailey Hilfiker received the Clay County Conservation District Agriculture Scholarship, a $2,000 MFA Foundation Scholarship, Clay County Cattleman’s Association Scholarship, English Award, Top 10 Award and Honor Graduate. Salutatorian Kourtney Chadwell received an Arkansas State Leadership Scholarship for $8,720/year totaling $34,880, Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarship totaling $14,000, $100 Spanish Club Scholarship, $400 Piggott Elementary School Scholarship, $250 Beta Club Scholarship, Future Business Leaders of America Leadership Scholarship, Business/ Technology Department Award, Social Studies Award, Top 10 Award and was recognized as an Honor Graduate.

The remainder of the awards included--Sarah Wikowsky, $2,000 Clay County Arts Council Scholarship $100 Art Club Scholarship; Caleb Riddle $2,500 Clay County Arts Council Scholarship $100 Art Club Scholarship, Memphis College of Art $13,000/year and Art Award; Ally Taylor, $400 Piggott Elementary School Scholarship, Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarship $1,000/ first year $3,000/year up to five semesters, Academic Achievement Tuition Scholarship ASU Beebe, Top 10 Award and Honor Graduate; Jacob Miller, $400 Piggott Elementary School Scholarship, $100 Art Club Scholarship and the Blake Morgan Memorial Scholarship; Alyssa Bracken, $1,000 Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarship, $1,000 BRTC Foundation Scholarship, Masonic Lodge Scholarship, $400 Piggott Elementary School Scholarship, $100 Art Club Scholarship, JoAnn Barlow Memorial Scholarship and the $1,000 Kent Green Memorial Scholarship; Bret Fuller, $500 Zig Williams Memorial Scholarship, A-STATE Pride Scholarship $6,970/year, Leland Sells Memorial Scholarship, Top 10 Award and Honor Graduate; Jazzmyne Mills, ASU Promise Scholarship totaling $8,000 Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarship totaling $14,000, Business/Technology Department Award, Top 10 Award and Honor Graduate; Madison Martin, $250 American Red Cross Scholarship, Future Business Leaders of America Competitor Scholarship, A-STATE Promise Scholarship $2,000/year, Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarship, Top 10 Award and Honor Graduate; Grayson Murray, Future Business Leaders of America Progress Scholarship, $400 Piggott Elementary School Scholarship, $250 Beta Club Scholarship, Matthew Brown Memorial Scholarship, A-STATE Pride2 Scholarship, Science Award, Top 10 Award and Honor Graduate; Abby Haley, Future Business Leaders of America Service Scholarship, J.B. Swift Memorial, Scholarship, Matthew Brown Memorial Scholarship, Top 10 Award and Honor Graduate; Elizabeth Pruett-Chavez, $400 Piggott Elementary School Scholarship, $200 Lions Club Scholarship, $100 Art Club Scholarship, Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarship, Top 10 Award and Honor Graduate; Jeffery Holle, $1,000 Kalem Rouse Memorial Scholarship;, Jillian Noles, $100 Art Club Scholarship and $200 PHS Class of 2005 Holly Mauldin Alonzo Memorial Scholarship; Haylee Samples, $100 Art Club Scholarship; Colby Crossfield , $50 Art Club Scholarship, $1,100 Class of 1955 Scholarship, Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarship $14,000 over four years, A-STATE Pride Scholarship $6,970/year, Math Award, Top 10 Award and Honor Graduate; Brooke Moore, $50 Art club Scholarship and Dr. B.B. Layl Memorial Scholarship; Noah Fuller, Federal Tuition Assistance, the Montgomery GI Bill, 100 percent tuition free for an Arkansas State Funded college valued at over $60,000 and Honor Graduate; Norman Collins, $500 Chad Dunlap Memorial Scholarship, John Deere Greenway Tuition Assistance Program, $1,000 Ryan Pounds Memorial Scholarship; Peyton Mann,

Matthew Brown Memorial Scholarship; Gage Martin, Federal Tuition Assistance, the Montgomery GI Bill, 100 percent tuition free for an Arkansas State Funded college valued at over $60,000.

Following the distribution of scholarships and awards, Crossfield delivered her honor grad address, and afterward the PHS choir, accompanied and directed by Ellen Meadows, performed a special selection. Murray then delivered her honor graduate address.

DeHart then had the honor of introducing the graduates as they accepted their diplomas from Piggott School Board President Hope Burns, assisted by board secretary Chris Roberts. Afterward, he presented the class for graduation, and the new graduates joined in the traditional flipping of their tassels.

The remainder of the graduates for 2017 includes Sophi Jewell Adams, Trevon Raynell Allen, Alexander Blake Baber, Caitlyn Joann Campbell, Bridget Cloninger, Caitlin Evalene Cloninger, Ashton Slade Ezzell Edwards, McCaleh Bionca Deshea Foulk, Devyn Cheyenne Gremard, Cutter Clay Guite, Cody Bryan Horn, Austin Ray Magee, Gaige Patric Martin, Paige Elizabeth Nelson, Kindal Olivia Risinger and Alexander Scott Treat.

Joining together one last time, the classmates sang the PHS alma mater, then enjoyed another long-standing tradition, as they threw their mortarboard caps into the air in celebration of their achievement.

With the band performing the recessional, under the direction of Jeremy Wortham, the class was escorted from the gym and into the next phase of life before the appreciative audience.

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