Seniors from Hickman High School walk to their seats before the commencement ceremony on Friday at Mizzou Arena in Columbia. Before students received their diplomas, Principal Mary Grupe asked the audience to participate in a moment of silence for Lushen Claridge and Ethan Putt, two Hickman seniors who died in the past year.
Students stand before the Hickman High School graduation ceremony begins on Friday at Mizzou Arena in Columbia. The commencement began with a long-held tradition of a faculty member carrying a ceremonial academic mace, a symbol of authority that grants schools the ability to award degrees.
Rahmat Adekunle delivers the senior speech to her fellow graduates during the Hickman High School graduation ceremony on Friday at Mizzou Arena in Columbia. In her speech, Adekunle thanked her peers for electing her as class president. “It has been nothing short of a pleasure and a true honor to serve as this school’s first Muslim, Black, female president,” she said.
Jude Donoho-Lowry rests his head on Liam Donohue’s shoulder during the Hickman High School graduation ceremony on Friday at Mizzou Arena in Columbia. This ceremony introduced the school’s 127th graduating class with 422 students. “Tonight’s graduation is a celebration of achievement, progress and grit,” principal Mary Grupe said during her welcome speech.
Graduate Hunter Hancock adjusts his sunglasses after receiving his diploma during Hickman High School’s graduation ceremony on Friday at Mizzou Arena in Columbia. The ceremony’s speakers acknowledged Hickman’s values of tradition, integrity, diversity and excellence.
As Rae Monroe waited for her nephew, Deon Webb, to receive his diploma from Hickman High School, she said his resilience helped him get there.
Monroe said she had lost her brother Arnel Monroe about four years ago. He was a football coach at Hickman and was very close with Webb.
"I'm feeling extremely proud of him," Monroe said. "He's been through a lot, he's lost people really close to him, and he fought through that to be able to graduate today."
Hickman held its 127th graduation ceremony Friday with a graduating class of 422 students. Graduates sported bright purple caps and gowns as they filled the court at Mizzou Arena.
There was a moment of silence at the beginning of the ceremony for two members of the class of 2023, Lushen Claridge and Ethan Putt, who died within the last year.
Principal Mary Grupe said the graduating class had been recognized for achievement at the state, national and international levels. Also, 11 valedictorians received awards at the event.
"Many hours of hard work, determination, perseverance and resiliency have made those accomplishments possible," Grupe said.
The ceremony also celebrated Hickman's values of tradition, integrity, diversity and excellence. Student speakers Jenna Morgan and Taehee Oh spoke about how the class had to adapt and be there for one another after the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted their freshman and sophomore years.
Kate McKenzie, who was holding a bouquet of flowers for her daughter before the ceremony, said she was proud of her daughter for graduating amid the "nontraditional high school experience" that came with the COVID-19 pandemic.
"As a teacher, I see that it's been really challenging for a lot of families, but she has really excelled," McKenzie said.