Friday night's graduation of the Hope High School Class of 2017 was not so much a ceremony as it was a giant block party with an overflow crowd of parents, grandparents, relatives and friends literally spilling out of the main Hempstead Hall theater, throughout the building itself, and into the front parking lot.

Friday night’s graduation of the Hope High School Class of 2017 was not so much a ceremony as it was a giant block party with an overflow crowd of an estimated 3,000 parents, grandparents, relatives and friends literally spilling out of the main Hempstead Hall theater, throughout the building itself, and into the front parking lot.
The formal proceedings proved somewhat abbreviated as a sea of 148 bright red gowns were assembled on the Hempstead Hall theater stage and quickly moved a processional taking less than 28 minutes as names were announced and diplomas were handed out by Hope School District Superintendent Bobby Hart and School Board President Willie Buck.
Even the keynote speech, delivered by legendary Clinton Primary teacher Cynthia Murphy, was less than five minutes as brevity appeared to be theme of the night.
“After graduation, you will be going different directions. Each day that you move toward your dreams without suffering or indignity, you’re winning.
Murphy, who has taught in the Hope School system for over 45 years, also spoke of the new future the graduating class faces.
“You have been taught, but can’t be made to know. Your parents took you to church, but they can’t make you believe,” she said.
And then, the real party broke loose as the newly minted graduates were received throughout Hempstead Hall by parents, relatives and friends for photo opps, gifts, and many forms of congratulations.
During the graduation, Hope High School Principal Bill Hoglund, who acted as primary announcer and master of ceremonies, said the new graduating class had earned a record 688 hours of concurrent college credit through the University of Arkansas Hope-Texarkana.
Following the event Friday, Hope School District Communications Director Ken McLemore provided the following list of Hope High School Honor graduates, including:
• Elizabeth Smelley, member of National Honor Society, HHS Student Council, Nike Club, Key Club, HHS Yearbook Editor, Girls State Delegate, Arkansas Senate Page as member of Phi Theta Kappa National Honor Society.
• Destiny Martin, HHS Softball player, HHS Cheerleader, HHS Student Council, Nike Club, National Honor Society, Talent Search student, and Phi Theta Kappa.
• Devron Collins, HHS Football player, HHS Track team, National Honor Society, Talent Search student, and Boys’ State Delegate.
• Kiara Smith, HHS Basketball HHS Softball, HHS Football Manager, HHS Student Council, Nike Club, and Talent Search student.
• Austin Stubber, HHS Football, HHS Baseball, National Honor Society, HHS Student Council, Key Club, Texarkana American Legion World Series Baseball Champions, Arkansas Senate Page as member of Phi Theta Kappa National Honor Society.
• Gianni Deshon Trotter, HHS Cheerleader, Nike Club, National Honor Society, Talent Search student, AFJROTC, Girls State Delegate, and Phi Theta Kappa National Honor Society.
• Matthew Tullos, National Honor Society, HHS Student Council, Key Club, Boys State Delegate, and Microsoft Technology Associate Certification.
Cum laude (3.5 to 3.74 GPA) –
• Leenetta Conway, HHS Track, Talent Search student, AFJROTC, 21st Century Classroom Program, Let’s Go to Work Foundation, National Honor Society.
• Shaquayla Jackson, HHS Track and AFJROTC.
Ebony Wallace-Morrow, HHS Student Council, FFA, Key Club, Talent Search student, and National Honor Society.
• Summer Pauley, Key Club, Nike Club, National Honor Society, Girls State Municipal Judge and Delegate, Key Club Lieutenant Governor Division 19 of Missouri-Arkansas District.
• Sydney Watson, HHS Golf, HHS Student Council, Nike Club, Key Club, National Honor Society, Girls State Delegate, HHS Yearbook Editor, and Arkansas Senate Page as member of Phi Theta Kappa National Honor Society.