Fourteen Agnes Irwin seniors were inducted into the Cum Laude Society at a ceremony on Thursday, May 13, representing students who have pursued the most rigorous coursework during their high school years.
The Agnes Irwin School's chapter of the Cum Laude Society honors students who have achieved excellence in the most rigorous course of study. The society permits school chapters to select up to 20 percent of the graduating class on the basis of superior scholarship. The selection is done by computing the level of performance and rigor of program, and is determined by those computations without awareness of the students' identities; the names of those selected are kept anonymous until the induction ceremony.
Mr. Wigs Frank, advisor for Agnes Irwin’s Cum Laude Society chapter, encouraged students to draw on the skills and principles that they have cultivated at Agnes Irwin — such as problem-solving, creative and analytical thinking, collaboration, and a deep foundation of honoring and understanding others — as they continue their life journey. “Your education is truly essential,” said Frank. “But, so too, is careful consideration of what you choose to do with it. While you will bring superior knowledge and skills to any situation, it is your empathy, kindness, and wisdom that will work to improve the human condition.
Keynote speaker Dr. Kathryn Zagrabbe ’05, a psychiatrist at the Women’s Emotional Wellness Center in King of Prussia and a Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry for the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine, congratulated the inductees and reflected on key lessons she has learned about persistence. Dr. Zagrabbe, a Cum Laude Society member herself, focused on how persistence is critical for success — offering the example of Dr. Katalin Karikó and her research on mRNA, which laid the foundation for today’s lifesaving COVID-19 vaccines — while also noting that choosing to take a pause is equally essential. “The times we choose to take a break or recover from adversity, can often be the most transformative,” she noted, sharing how a one-year break from medical school to pursue research redirected her own career journey.
She encouraged students to look forward to their career and life journeys, and draw on their gifts to help the greater good. “You have worked incredibly hard to reach this milestone,” she stated. “I hope you use today to reflect on and take pride in your accomplishments. I also hope you see today as a beginning — a beginning of careers and lives where you can use your talents and intellect for good, to serve others, to disrupt and improve the status quo.” At the same time, she encouraged students to live in the present, soaking up all they can in their remaining time at AIS. “The lessons I learned at Irwin’s continue to be the lessons I value most,” she shared. “I will always be grateful for this incredible Agnes Irwin community.”
Head of School Sally Keidel also congratulated the 14 inductees, “for their scholarship and academic contributions to The Agnes Irwin School,” she said. “They serve as a representation of the motto of the Cum Laude Society: Areté, Diké, Timé, excellence, justice, and honor. These virtues speak well to the academic journey in the Upper School.”
“In all the interactions with our school and community, our inductees have demonstrated these characteristics,” Keidel added. “When I think about the Upper School journey, I think about the bond that you all as students are forming with the students around you … how you thrive off the successes of each other and raise the bar for each other in a supportive and collegial way.”
Agnes Irwin’s 2021 Cum Laude inductees are: Hanna Askarpour, Eliana Baron-Hionis, Sydney Brooks, Raquel Coren, Shreya Kalra, Molly Knoell, Rachel Meng, Cameron Micheletti, Elinor Morrissey, Fiona Moser, Marion Reidenbach, Caroline Vauclain, Elizabeth Wheeler, Sofia Yang