Cricket Tatone ’24
On April 9, Mercersburg Academy honored a group of 26 students from the Class of 2021 as they were inducted into the Cum Laude Society. Cum laude, a Latin phrase that means “with praise,” honors the students of the senior class who have demonstrated excellence within the school community both inside and outside the classroom. The Cum Laude Society is generally regarded as the independent school equivalent of Phi Beta Kappa in colleges and universities, and Mercersburg is one of fewer than 400 schools with a Cum Laude chapter. “Cum Laude has been a long-standing tradition at Mercersburg to recognize academic excellence in our seniors,” Head of School Katie Titus says.
Dean Hosgood ‘98 spoke at the Cum Laude induction. After graduating from Mercersburg, Hosgood attended Carnegie Mellon University, and later earned his master’s and doctorate from Yale University. He currently works as a molecular epidemiologist. Hosgood, a member of Cum Laude at Mercersburg himself, has served as president of Mercersburg’s Alumni Council, and is currently a member of the Board of Regents. In his address, Hosgood encouraged students to approach life with an acceptance of failure, resilience, and passion.
Despite coronavirus protocols, the ceremony remained in the schedule, solidifying its importance as one of the culminating events of the school year. Since this recognition has long been central to Mercersburg’s culture, the inductees are pleased that annual tradition could continue. “It’s great to have some semblance of normalcy, especially for such a crucial moment of senior year,” Sarah Noorbakhsh ’21 says. Lian Wang ‘21, on the other hand, appreciated the novelty. “I actually really enjoyed this year’s ceremony,” stated Wang. “It was nice to share that more intimate setting with others inducted into Cum Laude and Mrs. Titus and [Academic Dean] Mrs. [Jen] Smith. We received our certificates and took a quick photo in front of the chapel. The ceremony is just a formality.”
Of course, with any effort or pursuit that persisted through the coronavirus, there are several takeaways. This year’s inductees offered some worthwhile advice to fellow students. “The best advice I could give on how to approach your time at Mercersburg is simply to find what you love, and to set goals and plans. If you do what you love here, you’ll open up the most and connect best with your peers and faculty mentors. The rest will then follow, because you’ll never lose passion for your work,” says Dylan Gantt ’21.
Overall, this Cum Laude ceremony held many lessons for everyone in the Mercersburg community, especially in this very unusual time in history. “I hope that the Cum Laude Convocation reminded us all of the value of striving for meaning and purpose in our academic pursuits and that even in the midst of a pandemic, we can celebrate things that are normal and time-honored,” Titus stated.