Ethan Spellmeyer is the man who stepped to the podium on June 21 and officially sent off the 217 members of Haddonfield Memorial High School’s class of 2019, having been named school valedictorian during the annual senior luncheon two days before.
Spellmeyer will depart the borough having recently won a $2,500 National Merit Scholarship, headed for the University of Pennsylvania. He’ll also depart, like his 216 other classmates, with a lifetime of memories trailing behind. When The Sun caught up with him hours before graduation ceremonies were to begin, he spoke about the emotion of the past few days.
“It’s pretty incredible being on the edge of your seat and ready to graduate. The work, as you know, didn’t quite finish, and we learned recently that we (he and Julia Chin) were named valedictorian and salutatorian. We had to rush a little bit with (our speeches), but it’s definitely overall a good feeling,” Spellmeyer said when asked about how he felt being finished with classwork but not yet HMHS alumni.
In spite of a looming weather threat that threatened to push the ceremony indoors, the message – whether delivered in the school’s new auditorium or on the football field in front of his peers, teachers, staff, parents and administration – remained the same.
“I think one of the important things in my speech is – because it is the valedictory address – I’m supposed to reminisce on what we’ve done in the past, but welcome them to the future and do great things,” Spellmeyer revealed. “I think, throughout my own high school experience, taking risks and seeing where they lead has been one part of why I am where I am today, so I wanted to encourage the student body to do that as they move on into college.”
Spellmeyer plans to study either chemical or bioengineering, a heady track anywhere in academia, much less in the Ivy league.
“Throughout high school, some of my favorite classes have been chemistry and biology, and I also like math a decent amount. I figure that engineering has that application process, where it actually can have an effect on people’s lives. I’ve considered things like pharmaceuticals, different simulations of molecular drugs, things along those lines. I’m very interested in the chemical interactions between different proteins, and things of that sort,” he admitted.
A decorated member of the track and cross-country teams in Haddonfield, Spellmeyer also plans to continue his athletic pursuits at Penn. As of yet, he isn’t sure if he’ll join as a walk-on, but his heart is set on maintaining that standard of excellence in some form in the future.
Time is all Spellmeyer, and the rest of the class of 2019 has. Three short months, then four long years. Enough of a cushion to enjoy the present while preparing for the future.
“I’m definitely expecting to have to adjust to everything new. The community here is a great support system. My family and my friends around me, but at the same time I’m excited to move on. It’s not too far away, I can always come back to visit. I’m just excited to see what else is out there,” he concluded.