Cum Laude Society, 2021
On Wednesday, May 12, fifteen members of Waterford’s Class of 2021 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 induction ceremony began with comments from head of school Mr. Menke, world languages department chair Mr. Stout. Then Abia F., member of the class of 2021, shared her thoughts about his path of scholarship at Waterford, see 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 them in our classrooms; we are grateful for all that we have learned from them!
The below students from the Class of 2021 were inducted into the Cum Laude Society this year.
Cum Laude Remarks
Abia F., Class of 2021 and Cum Laude Inductee
I was raised on reading. Fairy tales with my mother, and The Arabian Nights and Rudyard Kipling with my father. When I was about 8 or 9 years old, and was supposed to be doing my homework or practicing piano, I would instead hide in my closet or in my empty bathtub and read Anne of Green Gables and Harry Potter. I always had to know what event would unfold on the next page. So, I suppose reading was the birth of my curious nature. My curiosity has followed me in Waterford’s classrooms as I have discussed great literature, studied world religions and calculus, and explored various eras of chamber music, all with people of differing perspectives.
I believe that curiosity is the root of excellence in all aspects of life. Curiosity, whether for the humanities, arts, or sciences is the thing that drives dedication and perseverance to one’s education. Each one of us is here today because we have that innate thirst for knowledge, and it has enabled us to excel. Waterford has nurtured our respective curiosities by allowing us to delve into our areas of interest in independent studies with passionate teachers, but Waterford has also broadened our minds by encouraging our class’s great writers to pursue physics and by having the math-minded students try their hand at photography. We now know to never disregard the value of learning something new.
At Waterford, because my peers and I have been immersed in a liberal arts education, we have learned the value of each discipline. By exploring diverse narratives in literature, we can learn the stories of people that come from all cultures, religions, and time periods. By analyzing history, we may begin to understand the constant complexity of the human experience. From the sciences and from mathematics, we can make sense of the physical world around us. And from art and music, we see and hear raw emotion expressed through color and sound.
Curiosity has inspired our devotion to academic excellence, but it has also emboldened us as critical and collaborative thinkers, people who are willing to analyze problems of the past, present, and future while working with and learning from others. To me, this is the true definition of scholarship. Scholarship can not be represented only by scores and awards; it is illustrated by the passion, grit, and brilliance of students like yourselves. Each of our respective skill sets shine because we care. We care about the material that we learn, and what it can teach us about the world. We care so deeply that we go above and beyond to ask questions and find their answers, and we do so with diligence.
My father is a great lover of poetry, and he introduced me to the works of the famed, mystic Kashmiri poetess, Lal Ded. I’d like to read you one of her verses now as I find that it expresses my gratitude towards my teachers and reflects my belief of the importance and infinitude of knowledge.
“One who has faith and confidence in the teacher’s words
With the bridle of knowledge controls the steed of thought;
By assembling the disarrayed senses attains peace,
One cannot die and cannot be killed.”
The teachers we’ve had at Waterford have been the most influential part of my high school education. They have taught me and my peers what intellect can offer, and their kindness and generosity have allowed us to place every faith and confidence in their teachings. On behalf of tonight’s inductees, I would like to thank the teachers at this school, for all that they have done for us and for our minds. They have helped us learn how to think and find peace, and this will take us to new heights, where the marks we make on the world, our legacies, will be eternal.
I’d also like to thank all the parents here this evening, as they are another kind of teacher to us. My own mother and father have worked tirelessly for me, my education, and my well-being, without ever asking for anything in return, and I have no doubt that all of the parents and guardians here likewise give that constant support, guidance, and love.
Lastly, I wish to congratulate tonight’s inductees, an infectiously curious and dedicated group of individuals, who find joy in not only their own successes, but those of their peers as well. Your hard work has paid off, and while it is not yet over, it will guide you to the path of success.
Cum Laude Remarks
Tim Stout., World Languages Department Chair and Chinese Teacher
Good evening, and congratulations to the 15 of you we are honoring with Waterford’s highest academic award. Some of you I’ve taught. Others I just know through the comments of my colleagues. You are well regarded and respected.
Don’t forget before the evening is over to turn to your parents and other family members and thank them for their support and sacrifices. These kinds of achievements usually involve many behind the scenes supporters. And let me say to parents and family members, thank you!
Tonight in the few minutes I have to speak to you, I’d like to say something about achieving success and satisfaction in our life’s work and pursuit of learning. Let’s be honest, we all hope to be highly successful in our lives, and we generally believe that this success will bring the satisfaction we desire. But, this is only partly true. True satisfaction comes through successfully doing the things we feel are truly meaningful.
I love Waterford’s vision statement, which says: We Inspire individuals to pursue lives of meaning and purpose. I love it because no matter how successful we might become, it’s through pursuing lives of meaning and purpose that we gain our deepest satisfactions.
No one can tell you your meaning or purpose. But, in your reflective moments, you already know. It’s staying in touch with that meaning and purpose that is the key, I think. Stephen R Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, taught, “Personal leadership is the process of keeping your vision and values before you and aligning your life to be congruent with them.” Perhaps one of the biggest challenges in life is not letting our pursuit of success come at the expense of our sense of vision and values.
Let me tell you a quick story about Highland Glen Pond, near my home. It’s 3 acres in size, and about 17 feet deep in the middle (so technically it’s a lake). There are ducks. They stock it with a few hundred fish each week during the spring and summer.
When my family moved to Lehi about 20 years ago we would visit it from time to time, but never stayed very long. It had a nice adjacent park and other recreational facilities, but the water back then was a bit stagnant and kind of smelly. Sometimes we’d even see a dead fish floating on the surface. To be honest, not many people used the pond back then. However, about 10 years ago that all changed.
The water had become fresh and clean. The fishing was great. Lots of people began coming again. What happened? I asked, and found out, the city decided to create an outlet, so the water in the pond could flow from the southwest end, and apparently this made the difference. To be honest, I don’t know all the chemistry behind why, but no one could argue with the results.
When Highland Glen Pond had everything, but gave nothing, it became stagnant, dirty, and smelly. But, when it had a small outlet to give part of itself, it came back to life—fresh, clean, and inviting! Let’s look at the ideas of success and satisfaction through the lens of Highland Glen Pond.
You could say that the city gave the pond everything it needed to be successful. It had plenty of water, stocked with fish, and lots of great recreational facilities.
Without an outlet, it slowly became stagnant, smelly, and dirty. We could say, not very satisfying.
Once an outlet was opened, it became clean, fresh, inviting. It sustained a variety of wildlife. People began to return in large numbers. They came to swim, kayak, paddle board, feed the duck, and just relax or enjoy the nearby playground and picnic areas. We could say it was now successful and satisfying.
How did one small part of the pond, the outlet, have such a big impact? I think the outlet at Highland Glen Pond is a metaphor for meaning and purpose. The meaning and purpose that we find in our lives almost always has something to do with giving something of ourselves to others.
When we share something that we have, we don’t lose it; we actually gain the real satisfaction of that thing. Plato said: “The measure of a man is what he does with power.”
I have no doubt that all of you will be highly successful in your chosen fields of study and labor. But more importantly, I hope that each of you will also find great meaning and purpose in your chosen fields of study and labor. I hope that like Highland Glen Pond, you will find ways to give to others, outlets of service and contribution, that will keep your lives vital, vibrant, and fulfilling. I wish you lives of success and satisfaction.
You have my highest admiration and respect. Just a few more weeks of school. You’re almost there. You can do it! Thank you for letting me share some thoughts with you on this wonderful occasion.