Thirty-four mid-term graduates will be honored at Hannibal High School Tuesday night. While it is not uncommon for the school district to acknowledge its early grads, what is unusual is the number of students who will be departing HHS early this year.

Thirty-four mid-term graduates will be honored at Hannibal High School Tuesday night. While it is not uncommon for the school district to acknowledge its early grads, what is unusual is the number of students who will be departing HHS early this year.

“Thirty four is low compared to the last few years, when (graduate) numbers were in the mid 40s to low 50s,” said Ted Sampson, HHS principal.

While the number of mid-term graduates may be lower than normal that doesn’t mean the graduation ceremony, which will commence at 6 p.m. in the HHS Auditorium, will be scaled back.

“Mid-term graduation has grown significantly over the years,” said Sampson. “When I was first a teacher it was a small ceremony in the cafeteria. It has grown to emulate the traditional end-of-the-year ceremony. We attempt to make it a dignified and memorable ceremony for both the graduates and their families.”

The mid-term graduation is typically well attended, according to Sampson.

“The students are well supported by friends and family at this event. The last few years the auditorium has been nearly full, which is a significant number of supporters for these students,” said the principal.

Regardless of the number of mid-term graduates, Sampson can be counted on to applaud their accomplishments.

“We are proud of each student that will walk across the stage on Tuesday night, and wish them the best of luck in their future,” he said.

The amount of thought that goes into a student’s decision to depart HHS at mid term varies.

“The majority have had early graduation in their plan for some time,” said Sampson. “We always have a few who decide in the weeks leading up to the event.”

The school district gives students as much time as it can to reach a decision.

“The guidance office starts asking at the beginning of the senior year to determine who has interest in graduating at mid term. We always have a few students decide at the last minute they wish to graduate at mid term, and a few who change their mind and choose to stay for the full length of their senior year,” said Sampson. “We allow students to let us know up until the rehearsal which takes the morning of the event, when the order is finalized and the programs are printed at that time.”

Mid-term graduates typically head in different directions.

“Some are eager to join the work force,” said Sampson. “We have several who are ready to begin college courses, and typically we have a few heading to the military.”

The departure of mid-term graduates impacts HHS, according to Sampson.

“We don’t notice a huge difference in class sizes. This is a small percentage of our overall student population and most classes do not lose a large number of students,” he said. “Anytime a student leaves it can change the makeup of a class as each unique personality adds to dynamics of a classroom environment.”

Reach reporter Danny Henley at danny.henley@courierpost.com