With the conferment of 257 diplomas on Thursday, May 18, the total number of graduates from Hannibal High School surpassed 21,000.

With the conferment of 257 diplomas on Thursday, May 18, the total number of graduates from Hannibal High School surpassed 21,000.

Families, friends and supporters gathered at Porter Stadium for commencement exercises for seniors and eligible juniors under a nearly cloudless sky and fair weather.

Much of the night focused on the theme of change — not surprising considering graduation marks the end of a 13-year educational career for the teenagers.

Ninety-eight students received awards and honors, each student’s name called as they lined up on the track at Porter Stadium. Ninety-six of the graduates indicated they will pursue a four-year college, while 51 said they would continue at a two-year college. Eleven will pursue vocational/technical training while 13 of the grads plan to enter the military — a fact met with a standing ovation from the crowd.

Fifty of the students will begin working after graduation.

Hannibal Superintendent Susan Johnson commended the class on a litany of accomplishments, from athletic prowess to academic success. She challenged the graduates to “make our world a better place.”

Johnson invoked the words of Mahatma Gandhi: “Be the change you want to see in this world.”

She urged the students not to be complacent, that commitment to change “doesn’t take a day off.”

She ended her remarks by telling each person to “be the best person you can be.”

Student speaker Jacob McAfee noted in his humorous speech that change is inevitable. He hoped each person could be a part of positive change — whether that is here in Hannibal or elsewhere. He wished his classmates good luck on their future endeavors, noting that tonight might be the last time many will see each other.

Pranati Parikh, another student speaker, challenged her classmates to set realistic expectations in a world full of change and dynamic extremes.

“Don’t be afraid to be ordinary in a world full of extremes,” she said, referring to current events taking place in the world today.

Hannibal High School principal Ted Sampson told the graduates that they would soon embark on a world of change. He hopes the students will rise to tackle new experiences that will soon befall them.

“Sometimes trying new things means failure,” he said, noting, though, that failure can also mean growth.

Students will soon embark on new adventures, with graduates scattering for further education as far away as Harvard University.

As the ceremony drew to a close, the graduates flipped their tassels and tossed their caps, signifying a change in their lives — one from adolescence into adulthood.

HHS top ten academic students:

1. Pranati Parikh

2. Brooke Burton

3. Maria Clark

4. Jordan Held

5. Emily Albright

6. Kylie Stroud

7. Hannah Deien

8. Liliana Erskine

9. Trevor Watson

10. Abigail Laws

HCTC top ten students (listed alphabetically):

Megan Armour

Brooke Burton

Maria Clakr

Heath Ehret

Dalton Goewey

Jordan Held

Emily Hultgren

Joseph Karlinski

Taylor Smashey

Kylie Stroud