On April 26, 20 members of the Class of 2022 were inducted into KO’s chapter of the Cum Laude society. Head of School Tom Dillow gave the opening remarks and shared what a nice change it was to be able to have the event in person and shake hands with everyone after a few years of holding the evening via Zoom because of the COVID pandemic.
Dillow addressed the group and acknowledged that this particular honor is extra special. “Cum Laude represents a recognition of those students who have hit the highest possible achievement of what we do best and what we are about: scholarship and learning,” said Dillow. He praised the students for their induction being the result of the efforts and determination of four years. “I think about our school’s mission,” he said. “Inspire students to excel. I think about our core values of embracing intellectual curiosity and learning with passion. The students that are here tonight best exemplify that at Kingswood Oxford School.”
Long-time faculty member Ron Monroe also spoke and commended the students for their hard work and academic excellence. In his remarks, Monroe paralleled the academic rigor of these students to an essay written by former Baird English symposium author John Updike, who visited campus in 2005. Updike commemorated the last game of the infamous Boston Red Sox player Tim Williams in a famous essay, "Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu." Williams brilliantly ended his career by hitting a home run in his last at-bat at Fenway. In his essay about Williams, Updike eloquently wrote, “For me, Williams is the classic ballplayer of the game on a hot August weekday, before a small crowd, when the only thing at stake is the tissue-thin difference between a thing done well and a thing done ill. Baseball is a game of the long season, of relentless and gradual averaging-out.”
Monroe equated this quote to the long-standing efforts and dedication of the Cum Laude students. “You didn’t succumb to temptation to take a day or week or month off and that, in the end, you would average out instead,” he said. “The tissue-thin difference has made all the difference as a scholar here. You, like Williams, were present here in mind and body each and everybody you were challenged in the classroom.”
The following were inducted: William Berckemeyer, son of Ricardo and Courtenay Berckemeyer of Simsbury, Caroline Boardman, daughter of William and Mary Boardman of Simsbury, Mackenzie Caruso, daughter of David and Alison Caruso of Bolton, Zeno Chen, son of Yan Chen and Fulin Shi of South Windsor, Edward Crowther, son of Matthew and Meredith Crowther of West Hartford, Macy Isenberg, daughter of Dr. Gary and Jackie Rubin of West Hartford, Minseo Kim, daughter of Kim Leal and Joo Kung of Goyang, Kyeongki So. Korea, Emma Levinbook, daughter of Dr. Howard and Dr. Wendy Levinbook of West Hartford, Megan Murphy, daughter of Tim and Janet Murphy of Cromwell, Shrinaath Narasimhan, son of Varshini Aravamudhan and Lakshminarasimhan Madrassudarsan of Newington, Amrita Natarajan, daughter of Dr. Venkata Natarajan and Lalita Ramesh of Wethersfield, Olivia Reynolds, daughter of Frank and Wendy Reynolds of Avon, Justin Rios, son of Richard and Judy Rios of Windsor, Stella Risinger, daughter of Randall and Tara Risinger of Glastonbury, Aliza Sadiq, daughter of Immad Sadiq and Muniba Masood of West Hartford, Patrick Schwab, son of Jim and Dr. Jenny Schwab of West Hartford, David Shi, son of Li Shi and Kimberly Shi of Avon, Marrich Somridhivej, son of Kongfaah Somridhivej and Lulu Khoosanguanchai of South Windsor, Nathaniel Welsh, son of John and Natalie Welsh of Granby, Qiaorui “Charles” Zhao, son of Qiao Huang and Feng Zhao of Farmington and Chengdu, China.
The evening also featured KO alum and guest speaker Bridie Clark Loverro ‘95. Loverro attended Harvard University, graduating with honors in English in 1999. She is a novelist and editor, beginning her career at Vanity Fair magazine, and then moved on to New York magazine. She has also worked at Simon and Schuster and as an editor at Harper Collins. Her first novel, Because She Can, was published in 2008 and her second novel, The Overnight Socialite, was released in 2010. Loverro also is the founder of QuadJobs, an online platform/app that helps college and graduate students connect to jobs around their campus and remotely. She currently works at Zibby Books.
During her time at KO, besides excelling in the classroom and being inducted into Cum Laude herself, Loverro edited epic, reported for the KO News, sang in the chorus, captained the cross country team her senior year, and played on the varsity basketball team.
Loverro voiced her gratitude towards Kingswood Oxford and acknowledged Ron Monroe and the impact he made on her as a student and athlete. “He managed to challenge us and pushed us by still radiating kindness,” said Loverro.
She shared her major endeavors since graduating college which included: developing stories as a writer and editor, creating a tech business with two partners, and raising four kids with her husband. Loverro said with humor, “It may sound like a zigzaggy path, but I have learned some lessons that have come to me through these three different channels; three in particular.”
Lesson number one: Always know the difference between want and need. “If you think about it, we all do know the difference,” she said. She referenced examples like a certain brand name college that you wanted but knowing it was an education that was needed. Or wanting to be invited to a specific party but knowing what was needed was friendship and connection.” Loverro encouraged the inductees as they embarked on the next chapter of their lives to be mindful of the long list of wants versus needs and focus on what is really important.
The second lesson Loverro shared was to notice what is working. “Don’t focus too much on those moments of perceived failure or shortcoming” she said. “Our minds are wired to scan for what could be improved. Make sure you stay equally attuned to your wins. When you train your eye on what's working it is a much happier, and I think, more productive, way to live.”
Her third and final lesson was to: Ask for help. Give thanks. Give help to others. Repeat. “What has become clear to me in pretty much every area of my life is we are wired for connection,” said Loverro. “And one of the most powerful ways this connection gets expressed is by helping one another. Without a doubt, the most important, mature, confident, life-changing thing a person can do is to ask for help when they need it.” Following that, the most important, mature, confident, life-changing thing a person can do is thank the person who has given them help. You really can’t do this too much or too often.”
Her parting piece of advice was simple but paramount: to have fun. Loverro acknowledged how this is actually not as easy to follow that advice as it seems. “We live in a world that really measures accomplishment and success. Make sure you really focus on making time to be happy, relax, have adventures, and just enjoy yourself.”