Family and friends filled the Ball Theater as Penn Charter's chapter of the Cum Laude Society inducted 33 members of the junior and senior classes and one faculty member on April 17. A national honor society established in 1908, Cum Laude celebrates Arete, Dike and Time – Excellence, Justice and Honor.
Head of School Darryl J. Ford; math teacher Jen Ketler, secretary of Penn Charter's chapter; and Travis Larrabee, director of strategic initiatives, presented and introduced each inductee to the audience.
The following seniors were inducted: Mia Bezar, Thomas Bradbeer, Natalie Driscoll, Brianna Fradin, Jack Gottlieb, Andrea Guillen, Mary McDavid, Mia Monheit, Ryan Mosenkis, Mia Murphy.
The following juniors were inducted: Guthrie Buehler, Theodore Cavanagh, Vanessa Ewing, Anne Flemming, Sarah Greenberg, Olivia Harbison, Gabriella Lopez-Ona, Aaron Reisman, Madeleine Riley, Sabrina Shaffer, Sara Shipon.
These students were inducted last year as juniors and recognized again on April 17: Hadley I. Ball, Rohan Bhambhani, Sarah Elizabeth Clarke, Amelia Lee Dogan, Alexis E. Kaiser, Brinlea Elizabeth LaBarge, Max Lubowitz, Annika Lee Murray, Elizabeth May Ominsky, Emily Page Proctor, Elisabeth L. Ross.
Penn Charter faculty member Ruth Aichenbaum was also inducted into the society this year. Aichenbaum taught language arts in Penn Charter’s Lower School for 16 years and founded the Teaching & Learning Center, which provides professional development opportunities for faculty and staff. Aichenbaum has served as the center’s coordinator since 2013.
Jim Ballengee, a former faculty member and founder of PC’s Center for Public Purpose, served as keynote speaker for the ceremony. Ballengee retired in 2016 after 25 years at PC and 42 years working in independent schools. He taught religion and social studies at Penn Charter and served as a college counselor and cross country coach. Today, Ballengee remains active in the world of education and nonprofit organizations through his work as a trustee of the Christopher Ludwick Foundation, a board member of Historic Rittenhouse Town and a founding board member of the St. James School.
Ever the historian, Ballengee drew on figures like civil rights leader Fred Shuttleworth and statesman George Marshall in his remarks, encouraging students to conduct themselves with “purpose, passion and integrity.”
“Speaking truth to power demands a moral response to a problem rather than an expedient, easy or selfish response,” he said. “It’s not an age we are living in now when we can afford to be too meek, nice, tame and safe. Instead, you should be robust, frank, adventurous, opinionated.”
Ballengee reminded students that they needn’t look far for examples of leaders engaged in values-driven work.
“They are all around you, changing the world quietly and selflessly. Look for those people making social change ‘in the wings’ who don’t constantly talk about themselves, but just set an example.”
Congratulations to the 2019 inductees of the Cum Laude Society. See more photos.