Cum Laude Awards
by The Milton Measure on Friday, June 10th, 2011
On Tuesday, May 31st, thirty-four students gathered in Straus Library to collectively celebrate their high academic achievements. In a school whose students often have a reputation for fierce academic competition, these thirty-four represent the highest caliber of academic achievement.
This extraordinary gathering of individuals and the unveiling of the plaque with their names in Cox Library cement them into the highest academic fraternity amongst high school students: The Cum Laude Society.
The Cum Laude Society is a nationwide academic fraternity amongst high school students, modeled after the Phi Beta Kappa fraternity in the university system. Their dictum, in Greek, is to celebrate “Areté, Diké, Timé” or in English, “Excellence, Justice, and Honor.”
Every spring, seniors with academic excellence receive Cum Laude based on their marks in Class III, II, and the first semester of Class I. A Class II student with the highest grades also receives an award.
It stipulates that no more than twenty percent of any graduating class can be inducted into the society, a requirement synonymous with an “A-” average here at Milton Academy. According to Mr. Ball, the Induction Committee attempts to gather the maximum amount of people into the society, loosely modeling the process on the “20%” condition.
Due to the incredible number of people here who achieve that B+/A- borderline, he believes that the people who deserve to be on Cum Laude Society achieve it. The 20% mark is “a good problem to have.”
Each chapter has its own eccentricities; for example, our chapter also selects one, two, or three juniors per year. With similar constraints as for the seniors, the junior(s) chosen display the highest academic average, if calculated. The only junior to be inducted this year, Gina Starfield (II), had the highest average throughout her junior year as well as her sophomore year.
Each year at the reception, a faculty speaker addresses those individuals. This year, the speaker was the beloved history faculty member Ms. Wade, who will be retiring from Milton.
She spoke upon the impending changes for the majority of the seniors, embarking upon new collegiate careers. Her theme was “What next?” and she described the “next steps” each person has to take upon the Hindu model of life and duty. Before defining those steps, however, she took the time to ask each senior in the audience to consider: “What next? What will I learn that delights? Consternates? What will I learn about myself? How will I use what I have learned at Milton?”
The first stage of life was “Living with the Brahman”, or complete devotion to studies, which the Cum Laude recipients exhibited so well.
Next was “The Time of the Householder,” during which they pay devotion into their business and community and make their work upon the World. Third was the “Stage of the Forest-Dweller,” in which each person meditates and discovers their wisdom and moves onto contemplation and solitude.
Ms. Wade alluded to the final stage by saying “that I have not reached that point yet.” Ms. Wade shared that, through all four stages of life, self-realization will move each person dutifully.
After Ms. Wade’s speech, Mr. Bland presented each person with his or her certificate, signed with Mr. Hansen’s artful handwriting. As Angela Berkowitz (I) viewed the unveiling of the plaque, she commented, “It’s nice to be recognized, and feel like I have left a larger legacy having worked so hard.”
Lastly, Mr. Bland commented on the collective success, “offering his congratulations to this year’s class of scholars, who represent the very best of achievement and focus.”
Altogether, the celebration was a quiet, solemn one full of mutual respect and camaraderie.
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