Hannibal graduates encouraged to make a difference in the world at 2016 commencement

Members of the Hannibal Class of 2016 toss their caps in the air following commencement exercises at Porter Stadium on Thursday, May 19.
Posted: May. 19, 2016 8:56 pm

Hannibal High School graduation speaker Sydney Bennett put it simply: success isn’t measured by dollar signs, but by the positive impact left on those around you.

Judging by the packed house of cheering family and friends at Porter Stadium during the commencement for the Hannibal Class of 2016, the newest set of Pirates with diplomas has already experienced a healthy dose of success.

“This is a great graduating class. It’s very good academically and there’s just a lot of talent in this class. There’s talent in every class, but this class is very talented. (They’re) good kids,” Superintendent Susan Johnson offered.

A glimpse at the accolades racked up by the Class of 2016 — including almost $650,000 in scholarships accrued by the almost 170 students pursuing high education — proves Johnson’s point.

The Academic team, of which several seniors are members, had a litany of first place finishes this year. The dance team was honored for having the highest grade point average in the state.

Soccer, football, cross country teams all achieved great success.

As Bennett said, “The Hannibal Class of 2016 is not just another class graduating.”

Speaker and class vice president Daniel Norman said the Class of 2016 benefitted from a uniquely team-oriented environment.


“None of us would be the people we are today if we hadn’t started our journey together in August 2012,” he said during his speech. “Everyone one of us graduates has numerous people to thank for helping us get to this point.”

He also recalled a story of a bonding moment for many seniors when they held a tailgate party at the school prior to a football game in the fall of 2015. He said the seniors’ efforts to establish school spirit as a group elevated them beyond any efforts of the individual.

Hannibal High School Principal Ted Sampson agreed.

“This group overall tried to have a positive impact on the climate and culture of HHS and we hope the following classes continue this effort,” he said.


The Class of 2016 boasted 17 students achieving a Summa Cum Laude designation, an additional 14 students earned Magna Cum Laude honors and 16 more students were honored with a Cum Laude distinction.

Eighty-seven students were listed as having participating in the A+ program.

The crowd gave a standing ovation to the handful of students who have selected to enter the armed forces following graduation.

At the conclusion of the evening, all 200-plus members of the senior class — plus 27 juniors earning diplomas — tossed their caps and tassels skyward, but as Norman said earlier in the night, “The sky is not the limit.”

Some have chosen to stay close to America’s Hometown, while others will travel as far away as California to pursue aspirations beyond the walls of Hannibal High School.

Bennett encouraged each graduate, no matter his or her path, to leave an positive impact on the world.


“I see students with dreams in their hearts and the potential to change the world with all of their different talents,” she said. “Make it a mission to take your talents and use them to benefit the world.”

Like many graduations, it was a bittersweet moment for the educators that have seen the class of 2016 change and mature over the years.

“As always, we are sad to see our seniors leave, but are excited for the opportunities they will seek in their futures,” Sampson said.

“I’m just really pleased and proud of them as I know their parents, and family, and (school) staff is as well. I wish them the absolute best,” Johnson added.

Reach editor Eric Dundon at .

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