Today's Paper Latest Primary runoff results Voter guide Sports Core Values Newsletters Weather Obits Puzzles Archive Story ideas iPad

Time flies for Pine Bluff High School grads

by I.C. Murrell | May 22, 2022 at 4:27 a.m.
MAIN PHOTO Pine Bluff High School valedictorian Braelyn Starks motivates his classmates during their graduation ceremony Friday, May 20, 2022, at the Pine Bluff Convention Center. A photo gallery of the graduation, which wraps up The Commercial's Class of 2022 series, is available inside. (Pine Bluff Commercial/I.C. Murrell)

This is the 14th and final entry in a series honoring Jefferson County's class of 2022.

Taking the podium at the Pine Bluff Convention Center, Charlston Colen took a deep breath and did her salutatorian duty Friday night. She encouraged her fellow Pine Bluff High School graduates, each with a future ahead of them, to live in the now.

"Time flies, and I wish we had enjoyed every moment of our senior year a little bit more," Colen said.

Yet, the Pine Bluff class of 2022 conquered so much in their four years on West 11th Avenue. They were among the first to trek through a pandemic world, they endured snowstorms and stood up for added safety measures on campus and across town. They also saw their boys basketball team overcome challenges of the pandemic to win back-to-back conference championships and reach the 5A state semifinals twice.

"We've experienced some things that some others can't say they have in their high school years," Colen said. "However, because of these struggles, we are stronger as we persevered."

Friends and family turned out in groups of matching shirts, rooting on their favorite graduates, the atmosphere resembling a sporting event where they root on the hometown Zebras. It's an atmosphere valedictorian Braelyn Starks, who wore the Zebra stripes on the football field, took in one last time.

"Four years ago, we were just ninth-graders coming onto the large campus of Pine Bluff High School trying to find our way," Starks said. "And now, look. We're all amazing young men and women who are now about to embark on greatness. It wasn't in any way easy, but we are here."

In all, 157 students received diplomas, 18 of them (including Starks and Colen) honor graduates. Starks challenged his peers to resist the urge to give up on their goals.

"Just look back and tell yourself, I've been in this position before, and I made it out," he said.

  photo  Charlston Colen makes the salutatory address. (Pine Bluff Commercial/I.C. Murrell)
  photo  Supporters of Brittany Scott celebrate as she walks across the stage. (Pine Bluff Commercial/I.C. Murrell)
  photo  Supporters, including a proud uncle of Kennedy Crumpton, cheer on their graduate. (Pine Bluff Commercial/I.C. Murrell)
  photo  Glenn Barnes III receives his diploma. (Pine Bluff Commercial/I.C. Murrell)
  photo  Junior Miracle Butler sings the national anthem in front of the U.S. and Arkansas flags. (Pine Bluff Commercial/I.C. Murrell)
  photo  Graduates of Pine Bluff High School listen to the valedictory message by Braelyn Starks. (Pine Bluff Commercial/I.C. Murrell)
  photo  Graduates flip their tassels to the left to signify moving from one level of learning to the next. (Pine Bluff Commercial/I.C. Murrell)



Sponsor Content