Arkansas Supreme Court Chief Justice John Dan Kemp will address Ozarka College graduates during the 2017 Commencement Ceremony.
Commencement will take place on Thursday, May 4 at 6:30 p.m. in the auditorium of the John E. Miller Education Complex in Melbourne. Approximately 400 students are expected to receive credentials from 32 degree programs.
Mammoth Spring High School Graduation will be on Monday, May 8 at 7 p.m. in the gymnasium.
Izard County Consolidated High School will hold graduation ceremonies at the Brockwell campus, on Tuesday, May 9 at 7 p.m., in the gymnasium.
Salem High School Graduation will be held Tuesday, May 9 at 7 p.m. at the high school gymnasium.
Melbourne High School will hold commencement exercises on Friday, May 12 at 7 p.m. in the high school gymnasium. Michelle Gray, Representative District 62, Arkansas House, will be the featured speaker.
Highland High School will hold graduation ceremonies on Friday, May 12 at 7 p.m. at the A. L. Hutson Center.
Viola High School Graduation will be held on Thursday, May 18 at 8 p.m. at the high school gymnasium.
Calico Rock High School commencement exercises will be held on Friday, May 19 at the elementary auditorium. Video begins at 6:30 p.m. and graduation begins at 7 p.m.


PROUD FAMILY: (l to r) Howard and Janice Blankenship, Eli Blankenship – American FFA Degree recipient, and Sheila and Danny Blankenship.

by Karen Sherrell
The American FFA Degree is awarded to less than one percent of FFA members, and is one of the organization’s highest honors.
In 2016, the degree was awarded to Izard County Consolidated graduate, Eli Blankenship of Bandmill.
The 2016 American FFA Degree Ceremony was held in Indianapolis, IN on October 22, during the Eighth General Session of the 89th National FFA Convention Expo. Blankenship joined 34 other degree recipients from Arkansas, and 3,790 from throughout the United States, chosen from a national roll of 629,367 FFA members.
The degree is earned by members who have demonstrated the highest level of commitment to FFA and have made significant accomplishments in their agricultural experiences. All of which describe Eli, through years of hard work and commitment.
This degree has also earned him the title of being the first FFA member at Izard County Consolidated Schools to receive the American FFA Degree since Wayne Neal has been the Agri Teacher and FFA Advisor for the past 14 years. “I have had three other FFA members receive national recognition by earning a National FFA Scholarship,” said Neal, adding, “Eli has not only earned this National Degree, but also the pride, respect and honor of his peers, friends and family, as well as the leaders and mentors before him that inspired him to earn this degree.”
And proud his family is. Accompanying Eli to the ceremony in October were his parents, Danny and Sheila Blankenship, and grandparents, Howard and Janice Blankenship.
Highschool graduates may apply for the American FFA Degree one year after their graduation. Eli graduated in 2014, and is currently in his second year at Arkansas Tech in Russellville.
During his first year in highschool, Eli earned his FFA Greenhand Degree, followed by the Chapter degree the next year, and then his State degree. “Eli raised cattle, chickens, and goats and rabbits,” said his mother Sheila. “He also had a community project he had to do.” Eli’s primary agricultural project was cattle, he was on the ICC Show Team, and he served as an FFA Chapter officer.
FFA members utilize the Agricultural Experience Tracker, AET, which is an online record keeping system for agriculture students to record their time worked or money earned with their projects or Supervised Agricultural Experiences, SAE’s. “They also keep records of their FFA activities, officer work, and time in community service, along with other accomplishments and awards,” said Neal. “Utilizing this system is vital for FFA members to earn the degrees, scholarships and awards that they deserve.”
FFA members must apply for the American FFA Degree one year after they graduate, and Eli’s older brother Isaac, a recent graduate of Arkansas Tech in Russellville, encouraged him to apply. “He had all the steps to do it,” said Sheila, “And he worked hard to earn state recognition.”
To earn the American FFA Degree, members must have received the State FFA Degree, and have been an active member for the past three years, with a record of satisfactory participation in activities on the Chapter and State levels. They must have completed the equivalent of at least three years of systematic secondary school instruction in an agricultural education program, and have one full year of enrollment in a postsecondary agricultural program. They must have maintained an operation and records to substantiate an outstanding supervised agricultural experience program, through which they have exhibited comprehensive planning, managerial and financial expertise. They must have earned at least $10,000 and productively invested $7,500, or earned and invested $2,000 and worked 2,250 hours in excess of scheduled class time. In addition to having a record of outstanding leadership abilities and community involvement, they must have achieved a scholastic record of a C or better, and participated in at least 50 hours of community service within at least three different activities.
No easy feat, and that’s why only one percent of the National FFA membership receive the American FFA Degree. Recipients are also awarded the gold American FFA Degree Key, a symbol of the highest achievement of the National FFA organization, and earned by one hard-working young man, Eli Blankenship.

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CRASHING THE PARTY: ICC’s Coby Everett goes right at the defense during the ICC Jr. Cougar’s game against Hillcrest last weekend during the finals of the Bill McCurley Jr. High Tournament. Everett hit a game high 24 points. See full story and additional photos on page 7 in this week’s Pacesetting Times. Photo/B.Stapleton

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by Fred Walker
The Izard County Consolidated Cougars and Lady Cougars will tip off the 2016-17 basketball season with their annual Black and Gray intrasquad games on October 7 at Brockwell.
The games will start at 5 p.m. with a seventh grade girls game and followed by the seventh grade boys, junior girls, junior boys, senior girls and senior boys.
Admission is free and a Chili Supper is being held in conjunction with the event from 4:30 to 7 p.m. Each meal will cost $6 and all proceeds will go to the Kailey Moss Memorial Scholarship Fund.
For more information or to make a donation, call 870-258-7700.

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SET AND READY: The Izard County Junior Varsity Volleyball team gets ready to receive a serve from opponent Cave City, on Thursday, Sept. 8, at the Brockwell campus. The Junior Varsity team includes Roree Warren, Trinity Neal, Stormy Woods, Tess Savell, Haley Stone, Isabella Martinez, Tracy Middleton and Joni Sherrell. See additional photos in this week’s edition of Pacesetting Times. Photo/K.Sherrell

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PROTECTING THE PLATE: ICC’s Shelby Morris gets ready to apply the tag to Lady Pirate Megan Hiles in the semi-finals of the Regional Tournament. Photo/B.Stapleton
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OUT BY A STEP: Calico Rock first baseman Katie Hamby takes the throw from Maykayla Simmons for the out as ICC’s Shelby Morris hustles down the line during the semi-finals of the Regional Tournament. Photo/B.Stapleton
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GETTING CLOSER: Mammoth Spring’s Logan Skaggs slides safely into third base in last week’s Regional Tournament. Photo/B.Stapleton
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SCORCHING ONE: Melbourne’s Cailey Cossey hits a line shot against Manila in the semi-finals of the Regional Tournament. Photo/B.Stapleton
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JUGGLING ACT: Lady Cougar Shelby Morris corrals a pop foul for an out against Viola in the opening round of Regionals. Photo/B.Stapleton

golf
Three Person Scramble
St. Mary of the Mount Catholic Church Knights of Columbus and Ladies Guild in Horseshoe Bend has rescheduled the Three Person Scramble to be held this upcoming Saturday, June 13. All monies raised will help them to continue their charitable works where needed. Get there early for the complimentary refreshments that will be served starting at 7 a.m. with the 8 a.m. shotgun start. For more information the Pro Shop at 870-670-5252 or Dick LeMere at 870-670-5610.
Mountain Home Charity Golf Classic
Mark your calendars for the Mountain Home Charity Golf Classic, formerly known as the Mountain Home Christian Clinic Charity Golf Tournament, on June 13 and 14 at Big Creek Golf and Country Club in Mountain Home. 
Entry fee: $165 per person or $495 per three person team, includes cart. Entry fee includes lunch and dinner on Saturday and lunch on Sunday.
For more information call 870-508-6105.
Two Person Scramble
The Izard County High School Athletic Department will be having a Two Person Scramble Golf Tournament at the Course on Turkey Mountain in Horseshoe Bend on Saturday, June 20 beginning at 9 a.m. The cost of the tournament is $100 per team. A large variety of door prizes will be given away and participants will have an opportunity on all three par threes to win a hole-in-one prize.
For information, call the Pro Shop at 870-670-5252 or David Harmon at 870-373-1713, or by email at david.harmon@iccougars.org. An entry form is on page 3 in the June 10 edition of Pacesetting Times.

golf
Three Person Scramble
St. Mary of the Mount Catholic Church Knights of Columbus and Ladies Guild in Horseshoe Bend has rescheduled the Three Person Scramble to be held this upcoming Saturday, June 13. All monies raised will help them to continue their charitable works where needed. Get there early for the complimentary refreshments that will be served starting at 7 a.m. with the 8 a.m. shotgun start. For more information the Pro Shop at 870-670-5252 or Dick LeMere at 870-670-5610.
Mountain Home Charity Golf Classic
Mark your calendars for the Mountain Home Charity Golf Classic, formerly known as the Mountain Home Christian Clinic Charity Golf Tournament, on June 13 and 14 at Big Creek Golf and Country Club in Mountain Home. 
Entry fee: $165 per person or $495 per three person team, includes cart. Entry fee includes lunch and dinner on Saturday and lunch on Sunday.
For more information call 870-508-6105.
Two Person Scramble
The Izard County High School Athletic Department will be having a Two Person Scramble Golf Tournament at the Course on Turkey Mountain in Horseshoe Bend on Saturday, June 20 beginning at 9 a.m. The cost of the tournament is $100 per team. A large variety of door prizes will be given away and participants will have an opportunity on all three par threes to win a hole-in-one prize.
For information, call the Pro Shop at 870-670-5252 or David Harmon at 870-373-1713, or by email at david.harmon@iccougars.org. An entry form is on page 3 in the June 10 edition of Pacesetting Times.

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ALL TOURNAMENT TEAM: (l to r) Lauren Jones, Jen King, and Kennedy Cooper were selected to be on the All Tournament Team at the NEA Invitational Basketball Tournament held last week. See full story and additional pictures on page 7 in this week’s edition!