Cum Laude Ceremony 2023

On April 19, Laguna held its annual Cum Laude induction ceremony in Ruston Amphitheater. Five juniors and three seniors were inducted into the prestigious Society.


Jackson Baltes

Seniors Aden Meisel, Hudson Mayfield, Emma Schubert, Alexandra Siegel, Molly Morouse, Katherine Ball, and Abby Kim gather after the ceremony.

Ada Green, Co-Feature Editor

“Today we get to celebrate our school’s core value of scholarship,” said Head of Upper School Melissa Alkire, “Cum Laude reminds us of our adherence to this core value of scholarship each year, month, and day.” 

Literally meaning “with distinction,” the Cum Laude Society is an international association founded in 1906 to recognize significant scholastic achievement in high schools. 

Three hundred eighty-two chapters represent the Society—predominantly independent schools in the United States, but there are also chapters in Canada, England, France, Spain, and the Philippines. Four thousand students are inducted each year globally.

The Laguna Blanca chapter selected eight of these students for its 2023 induction ceremony.

“The Cum Laude Society sets a limit to how many students can be selected and inducted each year, and their number is 20%. So that 20% can be divided up between your juniors and your seniors,” said registrar Liv Gonzalez. “What we have done is split it, and 10% of the juniors are inducted, and 10% of the seniors are inducted each year.”’

In 2023, 53 students comprise the junior class, and 32 are in the senior class, resulting in a total of eight inductees: juniors Grace Trautwein, Noah Olorin, Lucia Camp, Jake Gidney, and Josh Hansen and seniors Hudson Mayfield, Alexandra Siegel, and Emma Schubert.

According to Gonzalez, the five juniors “are the top five of their class,” and the total seniors—those inducted this year as seniors and those inducted last year as juniors—represent the top 20% of their class. In such an academically competitive school, how are these students chosen?

It is a common misconception that Cum Laude scholars are selected based on only GPA. The Society’s mission statement seeks to recognize scholars as a person and beyond their strictly academic performance, “promoting excellence (Areté), justice (Diké) and honor (Timé).” 

A Cum Laude scholar is recognized for not only their academic achievement but for being a motivated, kind, well-rounded learner.

“All chapters elect members who have demonstrated excellence, particularly academic excellence, in accordance with the philosophy and policies governing their school,” said Head of School Ron Cino. “Generally, chapters will elect to induct only students who have demonstrated character, honor, and integrity in all aspects of their school.”

Newly-inducted juniors Lucia Camp, Noah Olorin, Josh Hansen, Jake Gidney, and Grace Trautwein display their certificates. (Tara Broucqsault)

One tradition at Laguna’s Cum Laude ceremony is for the previously-inducted members to write and present speeches for the new inductees. These introduction speeches highlight each inductee’s accomplishments and personal contributions to their community.

“This process speaks to something special about Laguna: the intersection between community and scholarship,” said College Counselor Colleen Murray.

Of writing her induction speeches, senior and Cum Laude member Molly Morouse said,  “I felt like I truly knew who I was writing for and was genuinely proud of my friends for this achievement, which made it easy to praise and congratulate them.

It is an honor for an institution to be recognized as a chapter of the Society: “It displays the academic excellence of our students at Laguna Blanca School,” said Murray. “And not only the academic excellence but the phenomenal character that defines a Cum Laude scholar—students that are social justice issues-related and oriented and exhibit the responsibility therein. These are students with a high degree of integrity and good judgment.”