Forgoing the traditional dinner at Piatti, seven students were inducted into the Cum Laude Society at their homes during the week of May 18 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Inducted were seniors Larkin Barnard-Bahn, Héloïse Schep and Spencer Scott and juniors Connor Pedersen, Sarina Rye, Kaelan Swinmurn and Ming Zhu.

The Cum Laude Society, founded in 1906, recognizes the academic achievement of high school students and is associated with the Phi Beta Kappa Society, which does the same at the college level. Members are inducted based on weighted GPA.

“Our newest members have done consistently excellent work over several years and in a wide variety of courses,” said French teacher Richard Day, the president of Country Day’s chapter for over 20 years. “They are truly an outstanding group of scholars and artists, and are deserving of the highest commendation. Bright futures lie ahead for all of them.”

Three hundred and eighty-two schools, mostly in the U.S., participate in the Cum Laude Society. Chapters are only in schools of superior academic quality, the majority of which are independent schools, according to the society’s website.

Schools may induct either the top 20 percent (in terms of GPA) of the senior class or the top 10 percent of the senior and junior classes. Country Day, an independent school, selected the latter.

Besides Day, the Cum Laude committee at Country Day consists of Spanish teacher Patricia Portillo, head of high school Brooke Wells, biology teacher Kellie Whited, history teacher Chris Kuipers, English teacher Jason Hinojosa and math teacher Patricia Jacobsen.

At the usual ceremony at Piatti, committee members deliver speeches to the inducted students, Wells said.

“This year, we delivered the induction materials to their houses and gave a few words of praise to them and their family,” Wells said.

Senior Spencer Scott said Jacobsen and Wells inducted him at his house.

“We socially distanced (ourselves) to my backyard, and there they presented my diploma and pin,” Scott said. “We took a few pictures and talked a little bit. They were mostly talking about me and my time at Country Day. And then they all went home.”

—By Nihal Gulati

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