HANNIBAL | An idea found online has blossomed into a community effort honoring seniors from the Hannibal High School class of 2020, and banners showcasing each senior are going up on flagpoles throughout town and in the windows of local businesses.
Hannibal Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director McKenzie Disselhorst said she first saw the idea of banners online, in a community where residents displayed them for athletes who missed their spring season. She thought the idea would be an excellent way to highlight every senior at HHS, and she brought the concept before enthusiastic fellow community members during a recent Community Leader conference call.
“I thought that would be really cool if we could do that for all of our graduating seniors, because they're missing so many of their traditions and fun things and special things at the end of their senior year,” Disselhorst said.
Disselhorst reached out to officials with the Hannibal School District, Hannibal Parks & Recreation, Independent's Service Company, the city of Hannibal and community businesses and organizations to sponsor the endeavor.
Each banner features one student's name and picture, so they can be given to the seniors after they've been displayed. Disselhorst said Parks & Recreation staff members have been installing the banners, one flag pole at a time, and downtown businesses also will hang the banners in their front windows since there are more graduates than there are flagpoles. The goal is to have all of the banners on display by July 4th.
Disselhorst stressed how the banner displays and the preceding senior parade reflect the close-knit relationships and teamwork that make Hannibal unique.
“This is just a great community to live in,” Disselhorst said. “We have so much good community spirit, and people care about each other. I think everyone recognized — whether it's the banners or the parade — that we're proud of those seniors, and they've worked a lot of years to get to their high school graduation, and it's such an important milestone. They've just had such a different experience than most seniors do, and we want to make it not different all within a negative way, but different in a positive way when we can.”
Senior Ashley Hooper was surprised when she saw the photo showing her banner being installed.
“I feel pretty special about it all because in school, I was really an outcast and barely had any friends,” Hooper said. “I'm just ecstatic — I'm speechless, I can't say anything really.”
Hooper wanted to share her feelings with everyone who teamed up to bring the project to fruition.