Posted on May 14, 2013
Originally published in the El Dorado News-Times on May 15, 2013.
By: Janice McIntyre
Saying he was honored to stand in the spot where two former U.S. presidents have been, State Sen. Shane Broadway addressed the 2013 graduates of El Dorado High School during the seventh annual Academic Signing Day Tuesday at the EHS Arena.
The first Academic Signing Day was held May 17, 2007, just months after Murphy Oil Corp. announced the El Dorado Promise, Murphy?s $50 million scholarship gift to graduates of EHS.
Since then, guest speakers during Academic Signing Days have included George Bush in 2010 and Bill Clinton in 2012, along with Claiborne Deming, (who also attended Tuesday?s signing day) president and chief executive officer of Murphy Oil when the Promise was announced, Senator Mark Pryor, Skip Rutherford and Ron Kitchens of Kalamazoo, Mich. The El Dorado Promise was patterned after a similar scholarship program in Kalamazoo.
"This is an amazing day, to come to a community where a corporation and the community work together to provide? students with exceptional means to further their education after high school.
"You are part of something not many people in American can say. Congratulations on making it to this day,? Broadway told 2013 EHS graduates.
Broadway related a story of when he was playing high school basketball for Bryant and the team traveled to El Dorado. "On the way home we forgot we lost and the coach said we would be running at 5 in the morning. We told him we had ACT tests and because of El Dorado, I only made a 17 on the ACT. I fell asleep during the math section,? he said, adding that telling about the game in El Dorado makes a good story, but that wasn?t the reason he made a 17 on the test.
"You can do and be anything you want to do ? I?m living proof,? the Arkansas senator and interim director of the Arkansas Department of Higher Education told EHS graduates. He is a member of Gov. Mike Beebe?s Workforce Cabinet and was elected Speaker of the Arkansas House in 2001 ? the youngest speaker in Arkansas history.
"Set your mind and heart and you can do and be something if you have the desire to succeed and change the world in your own way. Don?t let anyone tell you can?t do anything you want to do and if they do, prove them wrong,? Broadway said.
He also encouraged students of the "importance of remembering where you came from. Be proud of this community. You have been given a gift not many in this country have been given. Murphy made a decision to invest in you.?
Broadway told of a time in his family?s life when his brother was diagnosed with leukemia (he has been in remission for 20 years) and of the emotional and financial strain on the family. He told how many members of the community of Bryant helped the family by holding fundraisers, bringing food and giving money to help the family in need. He said when he told his dad there was no way they could ever repay those kindnesses, his father told him to repay by helping and giving to others and "find ways to give back.?
Broadway encouraged EHS students to find ways to give back for the considerate and generous gifts they have been given.
"At some point in your lives, always remember this community that gave you this gift (of continuing education and El Dorado Promise scholarship dollars) and made an investment in you. Always remember where you came from.?
Broadway then urged students who were sitting at tables on the arena floor, dressed in purple graduation robes and El Dorado Promise baseball caps, to pick up their pens and sign the letters of intent to attend a college or university in the fall.
Jim Tucker, principal of EHS, introduced all the 2013 EHS graduates as they entered the arena at the beginning of the ceremony and Mayor Frank Hash, a 1962 EHS graduate, then read a proclamation naming May 14 as Academic Signing Day in El Dorado.
Sylvia Thompson, director of the El Dorado Promise, declared Tuesday as a "wonderful day for teachers, parents, graduates and juniors.? She said over the years, EHS students have continued their education and have graduated from colleges and universities all over the country. Thompson said the legacy of EHS graduates before the 2013 graduating class "should assure the class of 2013 of their success? in the future.
She said members of the Class of 2013 include all-state and all-conference football players ? many who were wearing two state championship rings; all-state and all-conference basketball players and outstanding athletes in tennis, softball, baseball, soccer and track. She said seven members of the 2013 graduating class competed at the state Future Business Leaders of America competition and four DECA Club members competed at the national level. The Boys & Girls Club Youth of the Year is a member of the 2013 graduating class and other students have earned all-state and all-region choir honors; others were named to the academic all-conference in football.
"Seniors, I know you will be successful in college and beyond,? Thompson said, reading a list of out-of-state and in-state colleges and universities chosen by EHS graduates. She said 166 of the almost 300 graduates of the class of 2013 will attend state colleges and universities.
Steve Cosse?, president and chief executive officer of Murphy Oil, congratulated the graduates and said they have "made your families very proud.? He told students they will have options and choices and advised them to "carefully pick your field of study ? something you enjoy? and can enjoy after graduation from college.
He also encouraged students to go to their classes and "don?t skip, keep up with your studies and don?t procrastinate, don?t quit, hang in there and you won?t regret it.? He told graduates to work hard during their college years and keep a balance of work and fun.
"The world looks at you seriously now ? you are adults and you?ll make choices that matter. Keep an open mind, use common sense. A good education and good credit is the gateway to the American dream,? he said, urging students to use caution when applying for credit.
"Your academic record is one of the first things employers will look at and what you do, the choices you make, will become part of your permanent record. Remember your high school teachers and thank them and always remember El Dorado ? it?s a unique community,? Cosse? said."