Seniors receive Cum Laude award


On Tuesday, Feb. 11, 19 seniors gathered in the Conklin Library to be inducted into the Kingswood Oxford chapter of the Cum Laude Society. These students enjoyed an evening with family and friends and spent time celebrating their impressive academic records at KO.

According to the Upper School Handbook: “Cum Laude Society is the independent school equivalent of the collegiate Phi Beta Kappa Society.” Seniors are eligible to become members of the Cum Laude society at the closing of the first semester.

English teacher and Secretary of the Kingswood Oxford Cum Laude Society Ronald Monroe is a part of the selection process. “It’s pretty straight forward,” Mr. Monroe said. “We basically take the top 20% of the senior class, and that’s determined by GPAs. The primary component is academics, but another component is citizenship, which we take very seriously.” According to him, some research is required to confirm the student has been a good member of the community their entire time at KO.

This year, 19 students were inducted into the Cum Laude Society: Jenna Blocher, Aiden Borruso, Alma Clark, Joey Fago, Molly Jones, Esha Kataria, Kush Kataria, Luv Kataria, Lily “Cai” Kuivila, Juliana Kulak, Vishal Kumar, Matthew Marottolo, John McLaughlin, Ethan Pinkes, Yusuf Rashid, Spencer Schaller, Hannah Shames, Brandon Stake, and Nicholas Traver.

These students worked incredibly hard to maintain honors level work and balance school with sports and other commitments. Each of the Cum Laude inductees had various methods that led them to success; however, they all stressed the importance of determination and perseverance.

Senior Molly Jones credited some of her success to taking advantage of resources. “I met with my teachers and formed good bonds with them so they could help me if I was struggling with a certain topic,” Molly said.

Senior Brandon Stake mentioned how his in-class participation led to his academic success. “During class, I always take the time to understand whatever I am learning and make sure I am not just memorizing it,” he said.

Spanish teacher and President of the Cum Laude Society Brenda Semmlerock, alongside other faculty members, organized the dinner; the event was designed to celebrate the students’ efforts and officially induct them into the society. Students and their families witnessed an induction ceremony led by Ms. Semmelrock, a speech from alumni and Cum Laude society member Jessica Anavim, and enjoyed a delicious dinner provided by Sage Dining. Mr. Monroe especially enjoys the induction ceremony. “It’s very lowkey, just announcing and having people come up. But just hearing the traditions and meaning of the society is nice to hear,” he said.

Jessica Anavim, class of 2009, was another memorable part of the evening. Senior Hannah Shames especially appreciated her speech. “She talked about her core values that have helped her to find success,” Hannah said. “She gave really good advice for seniors that are a few months away from graduation and her speech gave me a lot to think about.”

Molly also said she found her speech to be impactful. “She reminded us that it is okay to fail, which is something that I personally need to remember,” she said.

Overall, the students had a memorable evening that left them with a great sense of pride and accomplishment. Senior Ethan Pinkes reflected on how he achieved Cum Laude Society membership and had some advice for hopeful inductees. “Ultimately work hard, have desire and genuine interest in school,” he said. “But above all, as Mr. Dillow stated in the beginning of the year, have intellectual curiosity. Pursue your passions in and out of school and good things will come in the future.”