East graduates praised for resourcefulness

Speakers recount lessons learned in past four years

Cherry Hill East seniors were decked in red and white as they celebrated their four years at commencement on June 22 at Temple University’s Liacouras Center in Philadelphia.

The class had 14 valedictorians: Nidhi Busannagari, David Chehet, Timer Goldfinger, James Kwak, Erik Li, Selina Lin, Youbin Park, Youjin Park, Aryan Pradhan, Dov Schwartz, Nicole Vital, Hope Yitian Xu, Darren Zhou and Kevin Zhou. 

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Student Government Association President Devyn Levin and Class President Kyler Pitre both reflected on the past four years in theatrical terms; Levin compared his high-school experience with the show “High School Musical,” while reviewing the memories made along the way. Pitre also compared high school to  an Oscar-winning film, with the pandemic break as the movie’s intermission.

“We put on an amazing play, wrote thought-provoking East Side (newspaper) articles, continued playing sports and even had our junior prom,” said Gabrielle Hart, who gave the senior address. 

“We emerged from that intermission as not only seniors, but role models for our underclassmen,” Pitre concluded. “We showed unparalleled school spirit with vast seas of red at every game. What’s more, we dominated spirit week for the second year in a row, proving that we are truly a class to be reckoned with.”

Coming back from the pandemic, Hart recounted, her classmates had to relearn how to get up early, how to participate in class discussions and how to engage with each other.

“These were overwhelming obstacles and we ultimately solidified our strength to persevere,” she noted. “And now, here we are, sitting together at graduation, preparing ourselves for what is to come next.”

East Principal Dr. Dennis Perry praised graduates for their resourcefulness during COVID. He cited the collaborative nature of the class when it came to  homework assignments and adaptability.

“Being resourceful – reaching out and looking up information – is more authentic to problem-solving out in the real world,” Perry explained. “Schools should not be blocking students from using resources to demonstrate their learning. Instead we should be embracing them. 

“Our graduates today, you, have benefited from a shift from memorization and recitation to application and synthesis, and this shift has been aided by you learning the lesson of resourcefulness.”

Though Superintendent Dr. Joseph Meloche was unable to attend in person,  Assistant Superintendent Dr. Kwame Morton read remarks on his behalf.

“Use your voice, your voices,” Meloche wrote. “Your perspective matters. Your voice matters. You matter. And I’ve so enjoyed listening to you as you’ve expressed your passions to me. 

“Sharing your voice does not always mean that you will attain the outcome that you desire,” he added, “however, your willingness to push forward in what you believe is right is a lifelong skill that I hope you always embody.”

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