"You have a responsibility to yourselves and others... to make a positive difference in the world."
That was the message of Hannibal School District #60 Superintendent Susan Johnson during the 2018 Hannibal High School commencement ceremony, held in ideal conditions Thursday, May 17, at Porter Stadium.
Johnson addressed the close-to-200 graduates, encouraging them to "be part of the solution," not part of problems in the world, a quote attributed to Steven Covey, founder of the seven habits. The students are the 143rd graduating class of Hannibal High School, making the total number of graduates 21,324 according to Principal Ted Sampson.
Sampson's address to the class was a bit unorthodox, utilizing the scoreboard at Porter stadium to display messages sent by students as tweets, commenting good-naturedly on the length and content of his speech.
Sampson used the scoreboard and live tweeting from students as an example of how fast-paced life can be and to illustrate the pace of advancement society makes. He encouraged the graduates to be life learners, inquisitive and productive in life beyond Hannibal High School.
Senior Nathan Lewton, one of two student speakers, compared life in high school to a book, with chapters dedicated to academics, extracurricular activities, sports, friends and more. While the chapters involving high school have come to an end, it's time for the graduates to make additional chapters. He issued a call to action to his fellow graduates to become the authors of their own books, but cautioned that no one truly knows how long their books will be.
Grace McIntosh, the other student speaker, said students from the class of 2018 have the potential to make a difference in the world.
"Behind the chicken-scratch signature, I see a doctor," she analogized. "Behind the sleepyhead in class, I see a creative mastermind. Behind the iPad and pencil, I see a NASA engineer. Behind the most argumentative person, I see a lawyer. Behind the instrument, I see a musical genius."
McIntosh encouraged her classmates to persist in their goals and dreams after high school to become that NASA engineer or musical genius.
Eight members of the class of 2018 indicated they will join the U.S. military — a fact that drew a standing ovation.
Family and friends then watched as the students, one by one, were handed their diplomas.
Top Ten Academic students
1. Shelby Nelson
2. Grace McIntosh
3. Emilee Carleton
4. Evan Wallace
5. Nathan Lewton
6. Gavin Booth
7. Emily Edwards
8. Skylar Dyke
9. Wyatt Waelder
10. Abbigale Daughtery
10. Ashlyn Nichols
HCTC top ten students (listed alphabetically)
Reach editor Eric Dundon at firstname.lastname@example.org