Family and friends of members of the Cabot High School Class of 2017 overflowed the prepared sections of Verizon Arena for graduation on Friday. Officials opened additional sections to accommodate the crowd.

The count of graduates at the ceremony was 698, according to opening remarks by high school principal Henry Hawkins. Included in the count were 233 honor and high honor graduates, he said. The 64 High Honor graduates have GPAs above 4.0; 169 Honor Graduates have 3.5 - 4.0 GPAs, as well as meeting specific course requirements, he explained.

In other remarks it was noted that the count could go higher as more seniors complete their graduation requirements during the summer months.

Overall, members of the the Class of 2017 have been awarded scholarships totaling more than $12.8 million, “Great job students,” Hawkins exclaimed.

Hawkins remarked that although the name of the school is Cabot High School, it serves north Lonoke County. “We are also representing the communities of Ward, Austin, Mt. Springs, Butlerville, Sylvania, Midway, 16th Section and Old Austin.”

Hawkins introduced the speakers, co-salutatorians Amin Nizrali Nadirali and Lexi Kaitlin Robertson, and valedictorian Joseph Aaron Sepulveda.

Nadirali is a member of the CHS Quiz Bowl Team, served as treasurer of the National Honor Society and as president of the Technology Student Association. He was awarded a National Merit Finalist Scholarship, the National Honor Society Scholarship, and the Georgia Tech Scholarship for Undergrads. He plans to attend Georgia Tech to major in computer science.

Robertson has been in forensics since seventh grade, serving as this year’s team captain; was awarded a University of Arkansas Chancellor’s Scholarship, Governor’s Distinguished Scholarship, Jim and Maxine Thomson Scholarship, the Hanshaw Citizen local Scholarship, and she is a National Speech and Debate Academic All-American. Robertson plans to attend UA to study law.

Sepulveda has been a member of the Quiz Bowl team, Mu Alpha Theta, AP Academy, National Honor Society vice president, and the Technology Student Association. He was awarded the Donaghey Program Scholarship, the Governor’s Distinguished Scholarship, the UALR EIT Scholarship, the Cabot Public Schools Board of Education Scholarship, and the UALR Chancellor’s Distinguished Scholarship. He plans to attend UA-Little Rock to study Engineering.

Processional of the Class of 2017 was to the Cabot High School Band recording of “Pomp and Circumstance,” by Edward Elgar.

Presentation of the Colors was by the CHS Air Force Jr. R.O.T.C. Color Guard: Cadet MSgt. Ethan Bowen; Cadet Maj Benjamin Silver; Cadet Maj. Reid Gullett; Cadet Capt. Anna Winstead; Cadet Maj. Nathan McCool; and Cadet Lt. Col. Isaac Wolter.

Welcome was by Christen Alexandra Johnson and Rebecca Anne Jolley.

Pledge of Allegiance was led by Sharjeel Hyder, with the National Anthem sung by members of the CHS Senior Choir.

The invocation was spoken by Emily Brooke Sumler.

Recognitions by Cabot High School principal Henry L. Hawkins.

Michael Alexander Fredericks led the ceremony in a time of silence in memory of classmates lost to deaths.

Aaron M. Randolph, CHS Class of 2001, led graduates in the changing of tassels.

Ceremony closed with singing of the Alma Mater by senior members of the CHS; benediction led by Colin Andrew Thompson, the ceremony closed the with dismissal of the Class of 2017 by Hawkins.

Six international exchange students were awarded honorary diplomas:

Camila Coutinho and Renan Menezes - Brazil; Ying-Hsiang Lain - Taiwan; Anna Roca-Auad - Bolivia; Shadia Weill Rodriguez - Peru; and Johannes Thies - Germany.