Wearing purple caps, gowns and tassels, holding diploma covers and taking photos, Hickman High School graduates of the class of 2020 experienced a different graduation ceremony Saturday — wearing masks and social distancing.

Three separate graduation ceremonies took place throughout the day Saturday at the school’s Competition Gymnasium, rather than one big gathering. Graduates, together with their parents, guardians and guests, could attend one of the three commencements, all while wearing a face covering and maintaining distance.

Class of 2020 graduate Mattie DeHaven joined the 9 a.m. graduation ceremony with 64 other graduates. She thought the ceremony was “kind of odd” because she couldn’t celebrate it with her entire class.

“But everybody that’s here, we’re a close community,” DeHaven said. “So we all just came together and had a good time.”

Jadah Burke, another graduate, thought being able to stand on the stage and receive a diploma was a good feeling.

“I finally graduated, and it’s over with everything,” Burke said.

Family members were excited and happy for the graduates, as well.

“We’ve been looking forward to it, and we didn’t think we were gonna get one,” said Chasity Mullette, older sister of graduate Samantha Dodd. “So we’re happy that they are doing it the way they always do.”

Cindy Mullins, mother of graduate Kaylie Crane, was satisfied with the ceremony given the circumstances.

“(Kaylie) wants what every high school kid wants — the experience of walking across stage and getting her diploma,” Mullins said. “So I’m glad she gets to experience it.”

Pities and moving forward

The 2020 graduates went through their last semester at high school in a different way — staying at home and unable to attend in-person classes. Roman Canty, another graduate, wished he could experience the “everyday thing” again.

“Like joking around with my friends in study halls or something, or a PE class, and messing around with the coaches and just talking with the teachers — because I just love the teachers here — and just seeing people in the hallway,” Canty said, “something that you just won’t get unless you’re at school. It’s something that is only gonna happen once.”

Canty also said that he felt it was a real pity that he didn’t get to say goodbye to the teachers. And for some of the graduates, the cancellation of the annual prom was a “huge bummer,” DeHaven said.

“That’s a big thing, because they only have senior prom here,” Burke said. “So that kind of sucks, because I know a lot of people were looking forward to that.”

Even though the pandemic changed a lot of things, life still goes on.

Burke and Canty have been accepted to Columbia College, and DeHaven will go study at MU.

“Wherever you go, whatever you do, be happy,” said Tony Gragnani, principal of Hickman, in his speech to the students.

  • General assignment reporter, summer 2020. Studying news reporting. Please reach me at feiyusu@mail.missouri.edu, or in the newsroom at 882-5720.

  • Galen Bacharier is a reporter and assistant city editor at the Missourian. He has reported on state government and higher education. Reach him at galenbacharier@gmail.com or on Twitter @galenbacharier.

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