Students encouraged to ‘make a difference’

story and photos by Aric Mitchell
amitchell@thecitywire.com

The 2012 Arkansas Scholars Luncheon, presented by SYKES of Fort Smith and the Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce, honored a total of 219 high school students at the Glass Pavilion on Wednesday (April 25).

During the event, Mike Callan, chairman of the Board of Directors for the Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce and president of Fort Smith-based Arkansas Oklahoma Gas Corp., told students that “in spite of what you may hear,” they could make a difference.

Drawing comparisons between current economic troubles and the Great Depression, Callan, who is also the president of AOG, directed honorees to the struggles and accomplishments of the past in order to learn what they can accomplish in the future.

“The generation that brought us through The Great Depression is called ‘The Greatest Generation.’ They fought and won a World War. They put a man on the moon. They grew up during The Great Depression, and they accomplished a lot at the end of that period. You’re inheriting a world that is in bad shape by some accounts, but it is certainly not in as bad of shape as it was then, and you’re better prepared."

Callan continued: "You’re smarter, better trained, have better health care, better housing and better nutrition, than previous generations. What you’ve done as Arkansas Scholars, we will notice when it comes time to hire. We’re very selective, and this is going to serve you well that you’ve made the grades, attended school on a regular basis, and done what you’ve done. You deserve a pat on the back.”

Also speaking at the event was SYKES Site Director Chris Melton, who emphasized the importance of student accomplishments in the workforce. Prior to the event, Melton shared his enthusiasm with The City Wire.

“This is a great event, and a great group of kids. We (SYKES) plan on doing this for many years to come. This is a great program, and it recognizes students that have met some pretty rigorous requirements. We’re proud of them. These are the future leaders of America,” Melton said.

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Those “rigorous requirements” include taking advanced courses, having “no grade below a C,” and “good attendance,” according to the Fort Smith Public Schools website, where a complete listing of qualified students are available for grades 9-12.

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