Cum Laude Society, 2020
On Thursday, April 30, nineteen members of Waterford’s Class of 2020 were inducted into the Cum Laude Society — a century-old organization dedicated to the goal of recognizing and honoring true academic excellence. Its member institutions include the very finest independent schools in the country and around the world.
Each year, the Cum Laude selection committee aims to honor students who demonstrate true scholarship. Committee members look at a students’ academic records and students’ contributions to the lively intellectual community that is fostered in the Waterford classrooms. This honor is bestowed upon the members of a graduating class who have a record of excellence in all academic disciplines and to those who demonstrate sustained commitment to the life of the mind.
The virtual induction ceremony began with comments from Mr. Menke and Ms. O’Malley. Then Evan L., member of the class of 2020, shared his thoughts about his path of scholarship at Waterford, see his full comments below.
Dr. Bennett formally inducted the below seniors into the Cum Laude Society. These students have now joined the ranks of honored graduates from Waterford and other independent schools. We will miss their comments and insights in our classrooms; we are grateful for all that we have learned from them!
Scholarly Excellence - Cum Laude Remarks
Evan L., Class of 2020 and Cum Laude Inductee
I was asked to speak to you all about the pursuit of scholarly excellence at Waterford. This could be an easy speech to write if there were only one way to become excellent. If there were one prescribed path that you could take in order to be successful. But that’s one of the things I love about Waterford. No matter what you focus on, if you continually push forward and pursue excellence, you will find success at this school.
In some respects, my journey through Waterford has been far from unusual. I’ve taken biology from Mr. Bromley. I’ve read Shakespeare every year since 6th grade. I’ve even been on the lacrosse team (granted, it was only in first grade).
However, I have also had a quite different experience in some regards. I have actively pursued Robotics, Choir, and Ethics Bowl simultaneously. I’ve focused on Physics while almost everyone else spent more time in Chemistry. I would hazard to guess that a good number of Cum Laude students have taken both an AP history course and AP Chemistry, and I wouldn’t be surprised if I were the only one this year to have taken neither. But that’s one of the things that’s great about Waterford. We don’t just celebrate one type of achievement. We look deeper, to see the artistic, athletic, and even the atypical academic achievements of each and every person here.
Waterford’s vision is to inspire individuals to pursue lives of meaning and purpose. And as a part of that, the school recognizes that there are many ways to find one’s purpose, whether it be from pursuing theater, playing basketball, or studying the building blocks of our universe.
Waterford has enabled us all to both discover and actively pursue our passions, preparing us for whatever lies ahead. But it would be ridiculous to suggest that any of us did it alone. We have had to rely on each other in each and every challenge.
Throughout my time at Waterford, I have received countless inspiring words from my closest friends and teachers as well as from those whom I would never expect. And in this tumultuous time, where we all want nothing but to see each other, I have seen these bits of support compound and expand like never before. Being in a community like this inspires all of us to not only succeed but also give back. I personally have participated in a group chat for a physics class I’ve already completed throughout this year, and I’d be shocked if anyone else in this meeting doesn’t have a similar story.
But we have not only been helped by our friends and teachers. It is important to recognize that none of us would be here if not for the support of our parents, pushing us forward and helping us to prepare for whatever next steps lie before us. So, as I thank Waterford for the wonderful opportunities that we couldn’t get anywhere else, I would also like to thank our parents for helping us all to take advantage of these opportunities and start living lives of meaning and purpose. Thank you.
Casey O'Malley grew up in Minnesota and moved to New York City to attend Columbia University, where she douuble majored in English and Russian Language. While an undergrad, she studied abroad in Moscow, Russia, and was the captain of the Columbia University Sailing Team. Casey moved to Utah after graduating and has been at Waterford ever since. She completed her master's degree in school leadership from Vanderbilt University in the summer of 2018.
Casey loves to backcountry ski in the winter and hike and garden in the summer.