Seven West Hartford residents were among the 17 inducted into Kingswood Oxford’s Cum Laude Society.
Submitted by Jackie Pisani, Kingswood Oxford School
In a dignified ceremony this Feb.16, 17 members of the Class of 2017 were inducted into Kingswood Oxford’s chapter of the Cum Laude Society.
The Cum Laude Society is a national honor society for independent schools. Founded in 1906 and modeled after Phi Beta Kappa, it comprises 382 chapters in the U.S., Canada, England, France, Spain, Puerto Rico and the Philippines. To qualify, students must be in the top 20 percent of the class by the end of the first semester of senior year and must have demonstrated good citizenship.
The following students were inducted:
Ryan Albanesi ‘17, son of Mr. David & Mrs. Jennifer Albanesi of Avon
Grace Amell ‘17, daughter of Mr. Jeffrey Amell & Ms. Mary Martin of West Hartford
Sasha Bash ‘17, daughter of Dr. Jeffrey Bash & Mrs. Hope Bash of West Hartford
Jacob Brown, ‘17, son of Dr. Steven Brown & Mrs. Sandy Brown of West Hartford
Amanda Civitello ‘17, daughter of Mr. Phillip and Mrs. Leslie Civitello of Wethersfield
Shelby Fairchild ‘17, daughter of Mr. Eric and Mrs. Amy Fairchild of Canton
Noah Hawks-Ladd, ‘17, son of Mr. Joshua and Mrs. Christine Hawks-Ladd of Bolton
Celia Jarmoc, ‘17, daughter of Mr. Stephen and Mrs. Karen Jarmoc of Enfield
Tara Kilkenny, ‘17, daughter of Dr. Thomas and Mrs. Anne Marie Kilkenny of Glastonbury
Carolyn McCusker, ‘17, daughter of Mr. Kevin and Mrs. Karen McCusker of West Hartford
Ambika Natarajan, ‘17, daughter of Dr. Venkata Natarajan & Ms. Lalita Ramesh of Wethersfield
Alec Rossi, ‘17, son of Mr. John and Mrs. Jane Rossi of Kensington
Emilie Sienko, ‘17, daughter of Mr. Christopher & Mrs. Donna Sienko of Newington
Ryan Silvers, ‘17, son of Mr. Bruce and Mrs. Leslie Silvers of West Hartford
Noah Stanton, ‘17 daughter of Mr. Gerald Stanton & Dr. Claudia Coplein of West Hartford
Bonnie Steinberg, ‘17 daughter of Mr. Michael Steinberg and Dr. Felice Heller of West Hartford
Cassandra T-Pederson, ‘17 daughter of Mr. Bruce and Mrs. Judith Pederson of Glastonbury
Cum Laude chapter president Brenda Semmelrock presided over the ceremony and Head of School Dennis Bisgaard remarked that the students were not just scholars, but also athletes, artists and campus leaders.
Following the ceremony, the inductees and their parents enjoyed a dinner, featuring keynote speaker, Brent Speed ‘05, a Senior Research Fellow on the Committee on Capital Markets Regulation, advocating for the competitiveness of the U.S. capital markets and the stability of the financial system. After graduating from KO, Speed attended Harvard College, graduating Summa Cum Laude and went on to Harvard Law School where he was editor of the Harvard Law Review.
Speed began his comments by laughing admitting that by being asked to speak in front of the inductees “confirmed that I am getting old.” He reflected how the rigors of a KO education, specifically the interactive discussion-based Harkness classes, prepared him for his career, instilling in him the ability to think critically on his feet, analyze, debate and respectfully disagree with one another. He cites that this skill help him survive a particularly rigorous contract class with Senator Elizabeth Warren who peppered the class with questions.
One lesson that Speed learned, after a demanding BC Calculus class, was the ability to cope with failure. “Individual failure doesn’t define who you are. If you learn from it, these failures make you better in the long run.”
Lastly, Speed encouraged the students to live the KO ethos of “caring beyond self” simply because it “is the right thing to do.”
The preeminent independent co-ed, college preparatory day school in Greater Hartford, Kingswood Oxford School is located just steps from Blue Back Square and West Hartford Center. Its 502 students come from 62 towns in Connecticut and western Massachusetts as well as China.