Friday was an unusual day in Maumelle with its two high schools both having commencement exercises in or around town.
Maumelle High School held its first-ever graduation event in its gymnasium and the students who graduated that night said they were proud to have the event at the brand new school where they spent the last couple of years.
Academics Plus Charter School added more prestige to its institution with Gov. Mike Beebe delivering the commencement speech to its 31 graduates at the New Life Church at the intersection of Maumelle Boulevard and I-430.
Beebe told the youngsters that their graduation marked a special day in their life. Rather than depending upon their parents and teachers for encouragement and drive, their future motivation must come from within each of them as they determine their own destiny by how serious they are at getting a good education, he said.
While some may immediately enter the work force, most will head to a secondary learning institution and how they apply themselves and how hard they work to learn will determine how they spend the rest of their life, he noted as it did for him.
The son of a single-parent mother who grew up in eastern Arkansas, Beebe said it was not easy getting through college and law school but he noted today’s graduates have more financial support and opportunity than he ever could have dreamed about.
His remarks were also brief, a fact not missed by most parents attending the event who appreciated both his candor and straight-forwardness.
It was a much more formal event than the goings on across town at Maumelle High School where a lot more students lined up to get their diplomas and to begin their adult life’s journey.
But one ceremonial event was the same. At the conclusion of the services, both sets of graduates tossed their caps up in the air to celebrate the historic event.
Both events were also filled with pomp and circumstance as graduates marched into and out of the ceremonies, although at times the closing march seemed more like a mad dash out of the place.
And at each location proud parents both had their photos taken with their graduate and took several photos for preservation destined to become a precious memento of that symbolic journey that leaving high school relates to becoming an adult and going “off into the world,” as one graduate explained it.
Parents were also beaming with pride at their well-groomed and dressed young man or woman and siblings were just as anxious to congratulate their big brother or sister as well as recording the event with cell phones and digital cameras.
Friday night was a much anticipated Maumelle event that just a few years ago couldn’t have existed at all without its own high school. And although the two schools represent a majority of Maumelle graduating seniors, many Maumelle students graduated from private and other schools throughout the county.
“This is a day we’ll all remember for the rest of our life,” said one newly minted high school graduate.