Pine Bluff High School seniors finally were able to walk across the Convention Center Stage and receive their diplomas in front of their classmates, family and loved ones.

Pine Bluff High School seniors finally were able to walk across the Convention Center Stage and receive their diplomas in front of their classmates, family and loved ones.

Though not your normal graduation ceremony that usually packs out the Pine Bluff Convention Center, due to the coronavirus pandemic this commencement limited guests to four people per senior.

Required to have masks upon entrance, families sat 6 feet apart and celebrated their graduating senior with sounds of joy as they walked from underneath the tunnel into plain site in their caps and gown.

Valedictorian Keenan Peet led the processional while his classmates followed him. Honor graduates sported gold tassels and were seated on the first row.

Makiya Mustiful sang the national anthem. Assistant principal, Dexter Lee opened the ceremony with a powerful welcome and Grace Swygert did the Invocation praying for the class of 2020.

Salutatorian Ahmad Pace Jr. gave his address thanking administrators, teachers and family for support. Pace said that support nurtured and matured the senior class for success to prepare them for their future. He also spoke of perseverance amongst his classmates who made it to graduation despite the pandemic.

Valedictorian Keenan Peet gave a short but sweet speech to his classmates thanking everyone for their support.

“I know who to invite to pray for dinner,” said Lee as the crowd laughed.

Pine Bluff High School counselor, Monica Bones, recognized the senior scholars.

“Due to the pandemic we weren’t able to separate our senior scholarships and awards for Pine Bluff High School,” said Bones.

Seniors stood with pride as their names were called and Bones read off an extensive list of scholarship amounts ranging from $1,000 to $20,000.

A few seniors were absent from the ceremony because they were enlisted in the military. Parents of those who were absent proudly stood in their honor such as the mom of Jordan Spicer, who joined the army.

Principal Claudette White gave her remarks before presenting diplomas to the graduating seniors.

“You have arrived and I am belated to stand here as your interim principal and tell you how very proud I am of you and all of your great accomplishments,” said White.

“Class of 2020, I want you to know that you are survivors. You have overcome so much adversity during your educational journey.”

With the pandemic canceling everything a senior could look forward to from prom, award ceremonies, national signing day and spring sports to name a few, White said the seniors used their voice to express how important a traditional gradation was for them.

“You pressed on. You did not give up. We are happy to honor you with a traditional graduation ceremony,” said White. “Class of 2020 you are strong, intelligent, and bold enough to speak your mind. You have used your voice and demanded to be heard and guess what. We listened and that’s what has brought us here today to this traditional ceremony.”

White pointed out other factors that made the class of 2020 special highlighting the first-of-their-kind creations.

“You created a lot of firsts,” said White. Firsts like the first cap-and-gown parade and the first class to finish during a national pandemic.”

The moment they all had been waiting for was finally coming to full fruition as seniors one by one received their diploma with excitement and a sense of pride and accomplishment.

How hard it was to not celebrate with one another by hugging and high-fiving as many seniors had to just air hug and high-five themselves. They were quickly reminded how careful a celebration of success needed to be during a pandemic.

New Pine Bluff School District Superintendent Barbara Warren left the seniors with encouraging words as they celebrated, some even throwing their caps in the air.

“Be not weary in well doing. In due season you will reap if you faint not,” said Warren. “This is proof of that very thing. It is your season. You are reaping.”