HANNIBAL | Hannibal High School's 2020 seniors will be honored next week during a series of special events, which typically would have taken place in May were it not for the COVID-19 virus precautions that were taken earlier this year by the school district.
“This class has had an interesting senior year,” said Hannibal School District Business Manager Rich Stilley, during the July 7 meeting of the Hannibal City Council at which permission was sought and granted regarding the closing of certain streets near Porter Stadium during graduation and the shooting of fireworks at the conclusion of the commencement program. Kicking off the week will be Scholarship Night on Monday, July 13. The program, which will begin at 6 p.m., will take place in the high school auditorium.
“The awards night is so important, not only for our students, but especially for those families with memorial scholarships,” said Hannibal Superintendent Susan Johnson, during the June meeting of the Hannibal Board of Education. “That is going to be a nice night to be able to honor those students and families.”
On Tuesday, July 14, a long-standing tradition will be continued when HHS seniors board the Mark Twain Riverboat for the annual senior cruise and banquet. Boarding on the Hannibal riverfront will begin at 5:30 p.m.
“We were really fortunate that he (Capt. Steve Terry) was able to secure a date for us to be on the riverboat,” Johnson said. “That is a tradition we have had for a long time. A survey was sent out to seniors and families just to get an idea of how many of them (seniors) would participate. I think there will be a good turnout.”
The highlight of the week will occur on Friday, July 17, when graduation is scheduled to take place in Porter Stadium. The event's rain date will beJuly24.The commencement program is set to begin at 8 p.m.
“Hopefully by 8 o'clock it will have cooled off a little bit,” Johnson said. “I think it will be really nice.”
July heat will not be the only thing on the minds of school district officials that night, according to Johnson.
“We have been talking with the health department because I want to be able to give a number to our seniors and their parents for their guests,” Johnson said last month. “We are looking at the logistics of what would be healthy. We want to make sure we are making good decisions. Being outside will certainly help.”
During the June school board meeting Johnson said that between six and eight guests will likely be permitted each senior.
“It will make a difference if we have all 180 graduates,” she said. “I do think a lot of graduates will be there, but I don't know if it will be every single one.”
According to information supplied the city by the Hannibal School District a turnout of 1,500 for graduation is anticipated.
A ticket will be required to be admitted to Porter Stadium on the night of graduation. Those tickets will be dispersed earlier in the day on July 17.
“When the seniors are going through their graduation practice that (Friday) morning we will have tickets ready to hand out to them so they can give them to their families,” Johnson said.
For those unable to secure graduation tickets, or who do not wish to brave the heat, Johnson said the graduation program will be streamed live on the Internet as it has been in each of the past two years.
Johnson was asked how the school district plans to deal with the surge of people at the conclusion of the graduation program.
“We are going to do our best,” she said.
“I think there is an orderly way that it can be done. It is just a question of if people will cooperate,” added school board member Mark Bross.
This will be the first time in several years that fireworks have been a part of an HHS graduation.
“It will be something really special,” Stilley said.