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Graduating seniors shared memories, lessons and plans for the future as they prepared for the ceremony Friday evening.

GAZETTE PHOTO: BLAIR STENVICK - Kari Stoddard and Avery Phelps will attend the University of Utah Honors College and USC, respectively, in the fall.About an hour before Sherwood High School's graduation ceremony was slated to begin Friday evening, the gates opened to let the Class of 2018's families, friends and loved ones onto the football field. It had been steadily raining all afternoon, but that didn't stop hundreds of people from racing onto the field to secure a good spot in the bleachers — or perhaps just one shielded from the elements.GAZETTE PHOTO: BLAIR STENVICK - Proud families and friends weren't deterred by rain at Sherwood High School's 2018 graduation ceremony.

Inside the school's auxiliary gymnasium, soon-to-be alums of Sherwood High gathered to line up for the ceremony. They stood in clusters, laughing, chatting, adjusting their caps and applying last-minute makeup.

"Walking through these halls, even though we haven't even graduated, I feel pretty nostalgic," said Kari Stoddard.

"It's an end of an era," replied her friend Avery Pehlps. "A transition."

Stoddard said her time at Sherwood High was filled with choir practices and theatrical performances. Looking back at the last four years, she said her most important lesson happened outside of the classroom.

"I've learned to really be myself," she said. "In middle school, there's the really popular group, and you still have that in high school, but you can worry about it less. You find your own group of friends, and you learn to worry less about what people think."

Stoddard plans to attend the University of Utah Honors College in the fall, and hopes to enter the medical field someday. Phelps — who said the highlight of his high school career was attending Model United Nations conferences in Eugene each year — will study business at the University of Southern California.

Down the hall stood academic student body president Jack Scypinski. Along with valedictorian Josephine Rutschman, Scypinski had a speaking role in the evening's ceremony, but he didn't seem nervous as he fiddled with his graduation cap. In fact, he seemed a bit relieved.GAZETTE PHOTO: BLAIR STENVICK - Jack Scypinksi, ASB student president, smiles in his cap and gown before graduating from Sherwood High School.

"It's been a really stressful year, the last two weeks especially, with finals and everything," he said.

Scypinski, who will follow in his father's footsteps and attend the Naval Academy next school year, said he'd gotten a haircut earlier in the day, and some advice from his barber stuck with him:

"Life is like a snowball moving down a hill," he said. "It moves pretty fast, and then it just keeps moving faster and faster."

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