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.
Agnes Irwin's 2018 inductees are: Madisen Bowen, India Dixon, Anna Flieder, Erin Hayes, Juliana Jaskot, Lingdian Kong, Kaitlyn Lees, Jenny Liang, Kayla Neary, Naomi Paradis, Brynne Pergolini, Livia Seibert, Alexis Short, Anne Ulichney, and Lily Zelov.
The names of the new inductees were announced by Head of School Dr. Wendy L. Hill at an assembly for Upper School students and faculty Monday morning. Dr. Kareema Levetter Gray '90, a professor of social work and a "lifer" at AIS, addressed students at the assembly, after an introduction by History Department Chair and Cum Laude Society Chair Wigs Frank.
"At the heart of an outstanding school like Agnes Irwin is scholarly engagement and academic excellence," Frank told upper schoolers. "Today we will honor a small group of seniors, but I want to take a moment first to encourage each and every one of you in the Upper School to think about the importance of your own intellectual pursuits."
"Your education is truly essential — but, so too, is careful consideration of what you choose to do with it," Frank continued. "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. No one can be certain what, precisely, the domestic and global challenges will be 10 or 20 or 30 years from now. Whatever those challenges turn out to be, however, I hope that your Agnes Irwin experiences offer you inspiration and vision to imagine, and work for, a more just world."
Dr. Gray, an Assistant Professor of Social Work in the School of Social Work at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, NC, is doing just that in her own work. In addition to teaching, she has served as a medical social worker, an adoption counselor, and as an in-home family therapist, and currently serves as an advisor on community boards in Charlotte, NC and Rock Hill, SC, to address community poverty and adolescent education issues.
Dr. Gray congratulated the new inductees and the entire senior class on their achievements. "To be selected to be a part of this prestigious honor society speaks to each one of you, the hard work and dedication that you have given to your studies at Agnes Irwin," said Dr. Gray. "We all salute you. What you have accomplished is not easy, especially at a school with such a rigorous curriculum as Irwin's."
She spoke to students on the themes of excellence, justice, and honor, all of which the Cum Laude Society aims to promote, and shared how her AIS teachers taught her to strive for excellence. Reminiscing on her own time at AIS, Dr. Gray told students that, "At its core, Irwin's is the same – an amazing place that nurtures, inspires, encourages and challenges girls to be their best – in whatever form that takes. In the classroom, on the athletic fields, in the studio, on the stage and in the community. I can feel that same amazing spirit when I walk the halls today as I did 30 years ago."