COLUMBIA — Seniors in the Hickman High School class of 2008 proudly marched across the stage Saturday afternoon to receive their diplomas at Mizzou Arena.
Family members and friends of all ages packed in to watch as more than 600 students graduated in the ceremony. Flowers, balloons and a sea of purple filled the arena to help congratulate the graduates for not only their academic achievements, but also achievements in the arts, sports and music.
Juan Pelaez, 2008 graduate and commencement speaker, called the graduates a “large mass of grape jelly,” but told them to live their life uniquely, regardless of how the person next to them is living.
“Make your own ‘easy five steps,’” Pelaez said. “You are the only one who can make it happen, and it started at a place called Hickman High School.”
Bianca Aaron, another commencement speaker, did not just lecture her classmates. She sang lyrics from Marvin Sapp’s song, “Praise Him In Advance,” and urged her peers to keep on going despite “dream killers.”
Hickman’s mission statement inspires students to “achieve academic excellence, to develop personal integrity and responsibility, to value diversity and to become continuous learners capable of contributing to a changing society.”
About 84 awards and scholarships were given to 130 recipients this year. The total sum of scholarship money received was more than $8 million.
Seniors were given the opportunity to vote for their favorite teachers to join them in the graduation ceremony. Although they selected teachers for various reasons, the most common reason was that these teachers were able to relate on a personal level with the students, as well as push them to greater academic heights. There were 14 Hickman faculty representatives and 23 honored teachers.
The Hickman class of 2008 prided itself on “being involved in the community and carefree,” said Michael Stuart, a student government representative at the school. After three years of extensive work at Hickman, seniors were relieved to complete classes and start preparing for their futures.
Despite looking like “another preserve,” Pelaez said, “Don’t worry about how you look today. In a few decades, we’ll all look like our parents.”