Honoring the Life of the Mind: Twelve Seniors Inducted Into Cum Laude Society
On April 21, Roxbury Latin celebrated in Hall the 12 members of Class I whose efforts and accomplishments have earned them membership in the Cum Laude Society. Each spring, the all-school Cum Laude ceremony honors the life of the mind—affirming that at the heart of a good school is scholarly engagement.
“This special event is intended principally to do two things,” began Headmaster Kerry Brennan. “The first is to recognize the most distinguished scholars of the First Class. In their efforts and in their accomplishments, they have put to good use the gifts they have been given… The second purpose of this annual ceremony is in many ways the more consequential, for it involves everyone else in this room. In honoring these 12 boys, we are honoring the life of the mind; we are honoring trying hard and doing well; we are affirming that at the heart of a good school is scholarly engagement. I admonish you to take to heart the example of the inductees… All of you boys have the capacity to strive, to grow, to change, and to know the satisfaction of ideas unearthed and potential realized.”
The school was honored to welcome Dr. Cathy Hall, Head of School at Noble and Greenough—RL’s friendly rival and neighboring independent school—to deliver the induction address.
“Those of us who lead schools lose a lot of sleep these days,” said Dr. Hall. “As we worry about the many challenges that surround our students and our faculty, we are also—as educators—inherent optimists, always seeking out the silver lining and the great hope around the corner. Our great hope, of course, lies in you… While there has never been a more challenging time to be an educator, I believe the same is true about being an adolescent. Your world as teenagers is threaded with complexities and challenges I never envisioned when I was your age. You are surrounded by a climate riddled with hateful accusations and woefully lacking anyone seeking to give one another the benefit of the doubt. Your news feeds highlight people who simply shout louder when they disagree, where anonymous and angry attacks through social media are the norm and kindness from strangers is harder and harder to find. It is increasingly difficult to have a shared belief in what the truth actually is, as facts that felt non-negotiable a decade ago are now politicized and confused. As teenagers, you also see all around you the cost of mistakes, even unintentional small mistakes, in society’s eagerness to label, malign, and marginalize one another. With that less than upbeat backdrop, it is easy to feel helpless to make a difference. The forces that have created this toxic climate extend so far beyond our reach, right?
“This is when my inherent optimism kicks in, when I look to our students—to my Nobles students and to each of you—with great hope, but also with great need. When you head forth from Roxbury Latin as graduates, whether that is later this spring or in five years, it will come at a time when the world needs your leadership and service, your kindness and compassion, like never before. Now, more than ever, when you live out the missions of our schools, you will be making an impactful difference in the lives of others and the world around you.” Dr. Hall went on to implore students to do five things along their journey: find their unique voice; listen well; disagree respectfully; be honest and kind; and take care of themselves, mentally and emotionally, as well as physically.
“You are surrounded by a world that is simultaneously hurting, healing, and hopeful—a world still reeling from the pain wrought by the pandemic and our reckoning with systemic injustices, one that is increasingly fractured and fighting. It is also a world that is lifting its head up optimistically as you step forward to lead and to serve, filled with so much light and hope for what your future will bring.”
With lively renditions of Gaudeamus Igitur and The Founder’s Song as bookends to the celebration, Mr. Josh Cervas, president of RL’s Cum Laude chapter, provided a history of the organization before he awarded the twelve inductees their certificates: “By formally recollecting our origins each year, we also reaffirm our commitment to the Society’s original and abiding motto—three Greek words inspired by the three letters of the old Alpha Delta Tau name: Alpha stands for Areté (Excellence), Delta for Diké (Justice), and Tau for Timé (Honor). These three words, with deep roots in our past and far reaching implications for our future, raise qualities of mind and character which, ideally, each member of the Society will espouse as his own values and strive to instill in others throughout his life.”
The following seniors were inducted into the Cum Laude Society this year: