EGG HARBOR CITY - Pilgrim Academy's 2013 graduates are leaving their school and the second family they have grown close to over their entire academic lives.
The school on Moss Mill Road graduated 34 high school seniors Friday, and many of them have been with the school since kindergarten.
Valedictorian Eliana Yu recalled her excitement on her first day of school as she addressed the audience.
"I was so excited to come to school that day," the Egg Harbor City resident said. "Thirteen years later, I can safely say that I am just as excited to leave."
Salutatorian Matt Chubb of Absecon said he was blessed to have spent so many years with his fellow classmates.
"If you were to ask me to summarize my years at Pilgrim in one statement, I don't think it would be possible," he said. "I was blessed to be in a class with so many unique personalities, because it always kept things interesting."
The class, dressed in black and red robes, received several awards for their contributions and achievements to the school. They included a row of robots the students made this year that were displayed Friday as the audience entered the room.
Some of the graduates said the day was bittersweet, as they'll miss their school and classmates but are excited for the new opportunities ahead. They also said they were grateful to the staff and faculty for the Christian education they received at the school.
Egg Harbor Township resident Devin Gabrielle said the class grew closer as the final weeks passed by.
"We're like siblings," she said. "Even though (many) of us are going to ACCC together, we still won't be together every day. It will be different."
Adam Johnson said he will miss the classmates he is so close to.
"It's hard to say goodbye," the Mays Landing resident said. "Every year at the end of school you say, 'I'll see you next year.' Now there's no next year. It's just 'good bye. I'll see you again some time.'"
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