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New Cum Laude Society members celebrate 'never-ending pursuit of knowledge'

New Cum Laude Society members celebrate 'never-ending pursuit of knowledge'
New Cum Laude Society members celebrate 'never-ending pursuit of knowledge'

Senior Mary Roper speaks about embracing the unknown.

Senior Mary Roper is always looking for the right answer. She wants things to be fair, clear cut, and defined. She often found herself stressed if put into a position where she did not know the correct answer or the right thing to say or do.

“In the past as I watched this assembly, I would have thought we were celebrating the discovery of more right answers. The pursuit of a black and white world in which there was only one right answer. The advancement of a place where we know everything and understand everything,” Mary said in her opening remarks at Harpeth Hall’s annual Cum Laude assembly. During her junior year, however, Mary discovered she had been limiting herself by trying to classify the world into right and wrong answers. Through her classwork, she allowed herself to be comfortable with the unknown and to embrace the complexity of the world around her. She opened the door to better empathize when people disagree with her, dive deeper into questions, and affirm her beliefs and opinions in a more significant way. This changed her perspective on what it means to be a member of the Cum Laude Society.

“I now think we have this assembly to celebrate the beauty of the lack of right answers. I think we’re celebrating the joy that comes with knowing there is so much left to discover, so much more to understand,” Mary, who serves as the president of Harpeth Hall's Cum Laude Society, said to the students and family members gathered in the Frances Bond Davis Theatre. “We’re celebrating the wonder of the never-ending pursuit of knowledge. We’re celebrating a world that stretches far and wide, that contains people and places full of nuance and complexity, not right answers.”

This is what makes a Harpeth Hall education so special. “Harpeth Hall,” Mary said, “teaches you why to think and how to think rather than what to think. In other words, Harpeth Hall presents us with incredible opportunities to expand our minds and challenge our thinking.”

At the April 10 assembly, Harpeth Hall’s chapter of the Cum Laude Society inducted 21 students. Since its inception in 1906, the primary purpose of the Cum Laude Society has been to recognize scholastic achievement of students in secondary schools. The students honored on Thursday not only showed excellence in their academic success, but they also displayed strength of character.

“I love and care for all of you, and I am not alone,” said Meggie Lucas, the winner of the 2022 Lulu Hampton Owen Chair for

Middle school history teacher and upper school soccer coach Meggie Lucas encourages students to make a positive impact on the world and to find joy in their work.

Excellence in Teaching, who delivered the traditional Cum Laude address. “Standing around you today are over 100 adults who have committed their lives for you. You see, as educators, you, our students, are our accomplishments. …We put our energy and passion into you, you give us purpose.”

Ms. Lucas’s path to finding her purpose was not always smooth. She struggled in school to discover what her strengths were and where her passions lay. Throughout her school years, she had to work to improve her weakness as she continued to build her strengths. Discovering her love of teaching has led to a life of joy and fulfillment. She encouraged students to make a positive impact on the world and to find joy in their work, just as she does. “I don’t stand before you today as someone who will go down in the history books from which I teach, and yet my husband reminded me of something that he sees every day as what might be one of my biggest accomplishments, passion and joy because I love what I do,” Ms. Lucas said.

“At Harpeth Hall, we expect nothing less from you than to leave this community better than you found it. For me, teaching and coaching bring me joy every day because I believe in my purpose. I am confident that each of you will find your own path to purpose and fulfillment.”

We have no doubt that the 21 new members of the Cum Laude society will make a positive impact not only on our community at Harpeth Hall, but on the world.

Congratulations to all of our 2023 inductees!

A group of new Cum Laude inductees outside of the Frances Bond Davis Theatre.

2023 Inductees​


Gracen Elizabeth Bailey

Lillian St. Clair Bartholomew

Sarah Carter Braam

Madison D Chung

Courtney Camille Couden

Olivia Judson Finlayson

Macon Elizabeth Fowler

Sarah Douglas Hinds

Isabel Reagan Johnson

Zina Flavia Vidalakis


Julia Reem Allos

Natalie Kathleen Apodaca

Isabella Kathryn Baldwin

Jaclyn Conway Bettis

Virginia Anne Callen

Ava Michelle Cassidy

Mia Bahr Corts

Nandini Govindaswamy

Hallie Emilia Graham

Olivia Winton Majors

Karina Pal Shah

Members in Course


Clara Hodgens Ambrose

Katherine Maree Brewer

Priyanka Sara Chiguluri

Isabella Marisol Guillamondegui

Ann Atkins Linley

Mary Austin Meacham

Chekayli Watney Meyer

Madeline Leigh Meyer

Lena Qian

Mary Evelyn Roper

Caroline Elizabeth Seehorn


Pamela Hankin Carver

MarQuis Lebron Chappell

Arthur Reeves Echerd, Jr.

Ben Curtiss Fulwider

Jennifer Jean Jervis

Michele Lynn O’Brien

Jacqueline O’Keefe Powers

Rebecca Hopkin Smith

Legare Davis Vest

Robert English Womack