Tuesday, May 03, 2016

TOP STORY >> Jacksonville salutes honor grads

University of Arkansas Systems president Donald Bobbitt (left) with honor students during the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce Champions of Academic Excellence luncheon. Pictured are Jacksonville High School students David Adams, Alexis Alexander, Jordan Bell, Kinley Burrow, Hailey Elmore, Stevie Eskridge, Payton Matheny, R.J. Moore, Gavin Price, Zylah Richardson, Tyra Talley and Chelsea Taylor, and Lighthouse Charter College Prep Academy students Dalton Bryan, Courtney Hindman, Jay Jefferson, Khaleeq Mateen, Chandler Smith and Santana Tello. Not pictured were Jacksonville High School students Brandon Hawkins and Brianna Mashburn, and Lighthouse Charter College Prep Academy students Jodie Miller, Drevon Hinton, Jordan McNair, Tichina Newman, Gavin Sipes and Jacob Waldrup; and North Pulaski High School students Lonnie Bures, Lindsey Burris, Katelyn Cray, Dylan D’Anna, Kiarra Evans, Ashley Felton, Linda Fowler, Kara Graham, Kristopher Jerry, Miranda Jordan, Bethany Kasper, Kalynn Lett, Amy Nellis, Kaitlin Parker, James Robinson III, Jeremy Schmidt, Tyler Silvas, Hayley Walker, Khagji Warren and Brandon Wright.
Leader staff writer

University of Arkansas System President Donald Bobbitt encouraged honor graduates of Jacksonville High School, Jacksonville Light-house Charter College Prep Academy and North Pulaski High School to continue their education. He was the guest speaker for the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce’s Champions of Academic Excellence luncheon held Monday at the community center.

Jacksonville had 13 honor graduates and Lighthouse had 10 honor graduates who were recognized with academic medals for their achievement. North Pulaski had 20 honor graduates but were turned away at the door by a policeman for being late due to testing.

North Pulaski High School counselor Stephanie Whitfield told The Leader on Tuesday that some of the honor students were taking an AP chemistry test. The school contacted the chamber prior to the luncheon, and said they would be arriving late. Whitfield said the tests were started early so the students could attend the luncheon.

The North Pulaski honor students chose to wait for other honor students to finish the test and then depart to the community center together as a group late to the event. They would forgo the meal and wait for the medal presentation.

When the North Pulaski students, counselors and some parents arrived to the luncheon they were told by a Jacksonville police officer at the door that the luncheon was full. There were no seats available, and they needed to leave. The were told their medals would be mailed to them, and they were turned away.

Principal Mitzi Smith treated the students to CiCi’s Pizza as a consolation.

There were several empty tables reseved for the North Pulaski students that had name cards by china plates.

The the lunch began 15 minutes late, and chamber director Amy Mattison said the rest of the students were “in transit.”

After everyone was served, the Chicken Country catering staff announced that they had plenty of leftovers for seconds and thirds.

North Pulaski plans to recognize its honor students and present the chamber’s academic medals with its own luncheon at a later date.

On Tuesday, Mattison referred questions about the mixup to Richard Moss, the chamber’s vice chairman and education chairman, who was the emcee for the luncheon.

“I have no comment, and we will issue a statement later,” he said.

What North Pulaski students missed was Bobbitt congratulating the honor students because they made the choice to take the road less traveled, accepted the challenges and did not take the easy road.

“I hope each of you choose to continue your education for your personal development, economic security and for the good of your family, your community and for the good of the state,” Bobbitt said.

“Some of you will begin college this fall. Others may choose to work and others may choose to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces, a noble and selfless commitment. Whatever your path, I want you to further your education,” Bobbitt continued.

Bobbitt said less than 19 percent of Arkansans have a baccalaureate degree and less than 30 percent have either a two-year or a four-year degree.

“The type of economy envisioned by Henry Ford over a century ago is no longer appropriate for the technologically advanced economy of the 21st Century,” Bobbitt said.

“In the future it is not what you know. We can all access the information. It is how you access the information, how you organize, how you prioritize it and then how you use it. It is those individuals that will lead the economy of the 21st Century,” Bobbitt said.

Bobbitt shared some expressions he believes are true that helped him a great deal the first four years as university system president.

“‘Eat the frog first.’ It is easy to put off the thing that needs to be done until later. Choose the opportunity to continue your education. It will give you the confidence to face the future,” Bobbitt said.

He said higher education will teach skills needed to be nimble, flexible and to adapt.

“You will be able to entertain multiple points of view without necessarily agreeing with any of them. Respectful conversation has a real place in our democracy,” Bobbitt said.

“You should dream big and accept new challenges even though you may not know at this point in time where they may lead you. Because of your accomplishments, society will seek you out for answers on difficult issues.”

He quoted a former Walmart senior vice president, who said, “People don’t care what you know, until they know you care.”