HOULKA –Houlka Attendance Center held commencement exercises for 20 seniors – eight of whom were honor or Beta graduates – Friday, May 24 at 7 p.m. in the school gymnasium.

Many other seniors received special recognition, and scholarships totaling $311,034 during the evening.

The evening opened with a processional, welcoming remarks by Principal Anthony Golding, an invocation by Tyreke Quantavious Davis, and recognition of special guests by Principal Golding.

Following that, Valedictorian Weston Cade Warren, Salutatorian Susan Lee Walls, and Historian LaQuesha Chantae Porter – students with, respectively, the three highest grade point averages in the class – offered their thoughts on graduation.

On hand for the ceremonies were School Board members Mrs. Tina Pullen, Mrs. Shelly Collums, Jamie Earp, Ruby Hollin, Kenneth Linton, Superintendent Dr. Betsy Collums, Counselor Mrs. Kim Murphree, and Special Scholarship Representatives: Mrs. Diana Earp, Joby Byars, Dr. Bill Burdine, Sheriff James Meyers, Glen Bray, Mrs. Beverly Haney, and Mrs. Terri Turner.

--Valedictorian Warren presented the senior legacy gift of $862.16 on behalf of the senior class of 2019 to Houlka Attendance Center . The money will be used to purchase items to beautify the campus.

--Dr. Collums presented awards to seniors who earned all A’s and B’s during their senior year and are listed on the Principal’s Honor Roll. Those students are Shaylena Anderson, Philip Collums, Daniel Dallas, Tynia Kelly, Lakendra Montgomery, Jatavian Simon.

--Seniors who earned all A’s during their senior year and are listed on the Superintendent’s Honor Roll are the following: Laqusha Porter, Susan Walls, Weston Warren.

--Several seniors were honored as as Mississippi Scholars. These students met stringent requirements to achieve this honor–rigorous classes, community service, high GPA, high ACT score, and good attendance–and are entitled to wear the Mississippi Scholars medal. The following students were recognized: Weston Warren, Susan Walls, Laquesha Porter, Lakendra Montgomery, Malik Bean, Phillip Collums, Sadias Ross, Michelle Buggs, Shaylena Anderson.

--Students who graduated with the title of Honor Students are those individuals who have displayed outstanding academic achievement during their entire high school careers. These students are graduating with an overall A average. They include: Daniel Dallas, Shaylena Anderson, Malik Bean, Phillip Collums, Lakendra Montgomery, Laquesha Porter, Susan Walls, Weston Warren.

--Several students were recognized with the Hall of Fame Award. It is one of the highest honors a senior can receive. This honor takes into account all aspects of the students’ lives. The following criteria are considered for being selected into the Hall of Fame: high academic achievement, good moral character, school and community service, and a role model for other students. The 7th through 12th grade faculty members vote on the recipients. Those chosen were Susan Walls and Weston Warren.

--The Principal’s Award is presented to a student who demonstrates academic achievement and leadership qualities throughout his or her high school career. Peers, teachers, and members of the community admire this person. This person has shown great perseverance in the face of adversity. That award went to Phillip Collums.

--Houlka Attendance Center also gives an award as an acknowledgment for high performance on the ACT test. This year’s STAR student recipient for the highest ACT score goes to Weston Warren.

--Each year the student who has the highest ACT score is allowed to choose a teacher who has been instrumental in shaping that student for the future and who has impacted that student’s life in a special way. This year’s recipient was Mrs. Melinda Kopp.

--The following students have received scholarships from various colleges and universities. They include: Shaylena Anderson –$200 Activity Achievement, $2,000 Merit Award –ICC; Michelle Buggs – $200 Activity Achievement ICC; John Earp – $200 Activity Achievement ICC; Daniel Dallas – $200 Activity Achievement ICC; Makayla Haley --$200 Activity Achievement ICC; Don Latham --$200 Activity Achievement ICC; Tynea Kelly – $200 Activity Achievement ICC; Tynia Kelly – $200 Activity Achievement ICC; Jatavian Simon --$200 Activity Achievement ICC; Brice Winter --$200 Activity Achievement ICC; Lakendra Montgomery --$4000 Freshman Academic Excellence Mississippi State University; LaQuesha Porter – $750 Kincannon Award Mississippi University for Women; Susan Walls – $24,000 Lucky Day Success, $6,000 Academic Merit, $8,000 1848 Scholarship, $6,000 Salutatorian Scholarship University of Mississippi; Weston Warren --$14,000 Academic Merit, $12,284 Lucky Day Success, $8,000 Jones Memorial Business Scholarship, $8,000 Mississippi Star Student Scholarship, $6,000 Student Body President Scholarship, $6,000 Valedictorian Scholarship University of Mississippi; Malik Bean up to $68,000 in educational benefits --Mississippi Army National Guard; Michelle Buggs up to $68,000 in educational benefits – Mississippi Army National Guard; Sadias Ross up to $68,000 in educational benefits – Mississippi Army National Guard.

--The Class of 1954 awarded a scholarship this year in memory of the seniors of that class who have passed on and in honor of the classmates remaining. This scholarship was given by Glen Bray. The award went to Jatavian Simon.

--Mrs. Terri Turner presented two scholarships: Franklin Corporation and American Home Furnishings. Those two scholarships went to Weston Warren.

--The Smith Foundation Scholarship was established to provide an award to a deserving student who is continuing his or her education. Morgan Smith, the originator of the scholarship, could not be present at the ceremony, so Anthony Golding presented the award.

Said Principal Golding: “On behalf of the Smith Foundation, I want to express these encouraging words: Never let anyone tell you that you can’t do something: with hard work and dedication, anything is possible. If you fail, never give up, because F.A.I.L. stands for first attempt in learning. E.N.D. is actually not the end; it stands for effort never dies. If you receive N.O. as an answer, it simply stands for Next Opportunity.” He presented the Smith Scholarship to Navaeh Moore.

--Rob Marion was a graduate of Houlka Attendance Center who suffered a life-changing accident a few days before graduation in 1987. His perseverance in the face of adversity inspired many. His classmates have established the Rob Marion Adversity Scholarship in his memory. Dr. Bill Burdine, a classmate of Rob’s, presented the scholarship to Shaylena Anderson.

--North Mississippi Health Services gives a scholarship each year to a student who is planning a career in a healthcare field. This student must exemplify qualities that are needed in health services. This year the award for the NMHS scholarship went to Weston Warren.

--The Mississippi Association of Supervisors has established a scholarship to honor the families of county employees. Presenting this year’s scholarship was Sheriff James Meyers.

Each year, The Mississippi Association of Supervisors recognizes a student who has a family member who works for the county. Said the sheriff: “These family members work in a variety of roles to keep our county running smoothly. This year, we are proud to award this scholarship in the amount of $1000 to Daniel Dallas.”

--The Earp family has named a scholarship in memory of their child who attended school at Houlka. “This child touched many lives here, and through this scholarship, she will continue to bless others. This scholarship is given in memory of Sydney Earp,” said award presenter Diana Earp. The award went to Susan Walls.

--The Houlka School family suffered a tremendous loss in the passing of Coach Jimbo Byars, school officials said. His family has created a scholarship in his memory, and Joby Byars presented it to Don Latham.

--Principal Golding then presented several faculty awards.

The Teacher of the Year award went to Angie Halford, and the Parent of the Year Award went to Ann Washington.

Retirement awards went to Linda Nolan for 35 ½ years of dedicated service to the children of Mississippi--20 ½ years Chickasaw County Multidistrict Special Education Project, and 15 years Chickasaw County Schools. Also recognized on her retirement was Melinda Kopp for 32 years of dedicated service to the children of Mississippi--19 years Chickasaw County Schools, 11 years Houston High School, 2 years Mississippi State University.

--Diplomas were then issued to the following seniors: Shaylena Joe Nicole Anderson, Malik LaJayvion Bean, Cleo Michelle Buggs, Phillip Lee Collums, Daniel John Dallas, John Gage Earp, Demarious Dashawn Ezell, Makayla Grace Haley, Tynea Shanta Kelly, Tynia Marie Kelly, Ricardo Don Latham, Lakendra Mechelle Montgomery, Navaeh Maiasia Shykeria Moore, Laquesha Chantae Porter, Sadias Rashun Ross, Jatavian Shamad Simon, Rayshun D’Marius Turner, Susan Lee Walls, Weston Cade Warren, Michael Brice Winter

--The benediction was given by Lakendra Mechelle Montgomery.

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