(Photo used by permission of Claire)
English teacher Ron Bell, French teacher Richard Day, Spanish teacher Patricia Portillo, juniors Zihao Sui and Smita Sikaria, history teacher Sue Nellis, junior Sahej Claire, biology teacher Kellie Whited, seniors Avi Bhullar, Sylvaine Bucher, Shriya Nadgauda and Marigot Fackenthal, head of school Lee Thomsen, senior Camille Locke and head of high school Brooke Wells take a group photo at Piatti Restaurant and Bar.

Six members were inducted into the Cum Laude Society on May 15 at Piatti Italian Restaurant and Bar.

The inductees were all girls: juniors Sahej Claire, Zihao Sui and Smita Sikaria, and seniors Sylvaine Bucher, Shriya Nadgauda and Avneet Bhullar.

The Cum Laude Society is a scholastic achievement society founded in 1906 associated with the Phi Beta Kappa honor society. Induction into the society is solely focused on weighted GPA.

There are over 300 chapters in the United States. Chapters are only in schools of superior academic quality, the majority of which are independent schools like Country Day.

Each chapter elects members from either the top 20 percent of the senior class or the top 10 percent of the junior class and the second 10 percent of the senior class. Country Day has chosen the latter.  

French teacher Richard Day has been the president of this chapter for about 20 years, but the rest of Country Day’s Cum Laude committee changes periodically.

Sahej Claire
Spanish teacher Patricia Portillo finishes a speech in honor of junior Smita Sikaria.

According to Day, teachers who were part of Phi Beta Kappa as college students are automatically members of the society.

“We also offer it to teachers who have helped the school in scholarly pursuits that we consider over and beyond ordinary,” Day said.

This year’s committee members are history teacher Sue Nellis, English teacher Ron Bell, Latin teacher Jane Batarseh, Spanish teacher Patricia Portillo, head of high school Brooke Wells and biology teacher Kellie Whited.

The induction dinner was held in a reception room at Piatti.

The dinner included this year’s inductees, their families, the faculty in the society, head of high school Lee Thomsen and other Cum Laude members, including seniors Marigot Fackenthal and Camille Locke, who were both inducted last year.

According to Sui, there were around six tables, each with five or six seats. The seats were not assigned, and most tables included students, parents and faculty members.  

“The dinner started around 7 p.m., and before that, each faculty member present introduced one inductee into the society,” Sui said.

“The inductees were complimented for their achievements individually and received a certificate.”

(Photo used by permission of Claire)
Juniors Zihao Sui, Smita Sikaria and Sahej Claire and seniors Avi Bhullar, Sylvaine Bucher, Camille Locke, Shriya Nadgauda and Marigot Fackenthal take a picture.

Dinner included a salad, a main course with a choice of vegetarian pasta, chicken or salmon, and a dessert, which was a choice of tiramisu or panna cotta. Coffee was also served after the meal.

Sui said that the atmosphere was friendly, with faculty chatting with the parents and inductees.

By Anna Frankel

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