Cherry Hill East, Cherry Hill West graduates reflect on high school memories

The graduates talked about their favorite high school memories in the days leading up to graduation on Thursday.

Cherry Hill West graduate Maggie McCurdy gives the final address to the class of 2017.

For some members of the graduating class of 2017 at Cherry Hill High School East and Cherry Hill High School West, high school went by fast. Perhaps, a little too fast.

“I definitely think you spend a lot of time in high school wanting to get to the next thing,” West graduating senior Maggie McCurdy said. “But then you realize it’s going by so fast.”

“It’s going to be something that’s hard to let go of,” East graduating senior Emma Wooten added.

High school ended for hundreds of graduating seniors at East and West last Thursday as both schools held commencement ceremonies at the Liacouras Center in Philadelphia. While many of the graduates are excited for the next page in their lives, they also enjoyed looking back at their four years in high school.

Emma Wooten gives the final address to the class of 2017.

Many seniors can recall when their high school careers started. For some, the first day of school freshman year was an eye-opening experience.

“It was very intimidating, because every time I had been in the halls (previously), there had been no one there,” West graduating senior Abby Spencer said.

“I was honestly terrified,” Wooten said. “I was a tiny little freshman and I had no idea what I was doing. The school was humongous to me.”

Abby Spencer addresses the Cherry Hill West class of 2017.

The nerves abated over time and many students began to get involved with sports teams, clubs and other organizations. At East, Wooten and fellow graduating senior Zachary Padersky were both involved with DECA. Padersky also played baseball for the Cougars and led the Countrymen student fan section for basketball games.

“It’s a lot harder than I thought it was going to be,” Padersky said about leading the Countrymen. “But it was a great experience, getting to lead the cheers and everything.”

Zach Padersky gives the senior address during Cherry Hill East’s commencement ceremony.

McCurdy was also involved in DECA, serving as the club president at West.

“It really taught me skills I need to go out into the professional world,” McCurdy said.

Spencer was involved in a variety of things, playing four years on the swimming and field hockey teams, playing in West’s wind ensemble and was heavily involved with the Student Government Association.

Many of the seniors’ favorite high school memories involved school events. Wooten has fond memories playing on her class’ powderpuff football team in 11th and 12th grade.

“I did it junior year and had a blast so I figured senior year would be even better,” Wooten said.

McCurdy’s favorite memory was from her class’ junior dinner dance last year.

“When we were there, it was one of those times where everybody was everybody’s friends,” she said. “There was no stress, everyone was there and happy and together.”

For many students, graduation came up on them quickly. Spencer said she felt more and more nostalgic as the final day of school approached.

“High school has been a great and fantastic part of my life,” Spencer said. “I’m struggling with holding on and letting go.”

Padersky echoed Spencer’s comments, saying nostalgia began to hit him in the weeks leading to graduation.

“I’m starting to feel a little nostalgic,” he said. “I’m graduating from a class with 535 people, and we’re all going to go our separate ways.”

All of the seniors will go on their own journeys following high school. Many will attend college. Spencer and Padersky are both attending The College of New Jersey next year, Wooten will head to western Pennsylvania to attend the University of Pittsburgh, and McCurdy will stay close to home, attending Drexel University.

No matter what lies ahead for the seniors, many say they will always remember their high school class and the great memories they made over the past four years.

“I want everyone to know that even though we’re leaving, as a class we’re going to stick together forever,” Padersky said.