Friday, May 27, 2016

EDITORIAL >> Salute to our Graduates

In the last couple of weeks, 1,514 young people, including 323 with honors, received diplomas from seven high schools here and began new chapters in their lives. In all, they earned $15.48 million in college-scholarship offers.

We wish them all the best in their future educational and professional endeavors.

Graduations are milestones for students, but this year as Jacksonville and North Pulaski high schools merge, we are reminded of their great importance for the communities where they take place.

As graduation season ends, we thought it worth a look at how many degrees each school granted. The information illustrates the growth and struggles of our communities.

Cabot High School, the area’s largest high school, graduated 656 students, 147 with honors and 50 with high honors, who earned a combined $5 million in scholarship offers.

Beebe High School had 190 graduates, 35 with honors, with $3 million in scholarship opportunities.

Sylvan Hills High School in Sherwood gave diplomas to 168, 16 with honors, who netted $1.2 million in college scholarship offers.

Lonoke High School graduated 133, which included 27 with honors, who earned $1.78 million in scholarships.

Jacksonville’s graduations will never be the same. North Pulaski said farewell to its last class of graduates, 143 in all, since it’s being consolidating with Jacksonville High and being converted to a middle school as part of a major remake of the city’s schools under the newly formed Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District.

North Pulaski had 23 honor grads. The class of 2016 earned $1.5 in college scholarship offers.

As North Pulaski High closes, the Lighthouse Charter School graduated its first class of seniors since it began in 2009. Many of its graduates began studying at Lighthouse as elementary pupils.

Lighthouse Charter School awarded diplomas to 60 students, with 12 honor graduates, who received $1.7 million in scholarship offers. The ceremony was held at the Argenta Community Theater in North Little Rock on Thursday.

Jacksonville High School, which will have a new $60 million campus downtown in three years, graduated 164, including 15 with honors, who together collected $1.3 million in scholarships.

Next year, it’s reasonable to expect that as many as 300 will graduate from Jacksonville High after North Pulaski students are transferred there. When the new campus opens, residents are likely to see even more growth in its student body.

Both schools also shed their old mascots in favor of the Titans. The Falcons and Red Devils will be long gone next school year. But what’s most important is Jacksonville will have a fresh start and a chance to grow as a community by improving its schools and civic life.