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Cum Laude Society Annual Induction of New Members

TUESDAY February 5, 2013


Introduction by Sarah Bakhiet I’m often asked what La Jolla Country Day’s most distinguishing feature is. The answer is simple in its complexity: LJCDS combines the best of everything. We’re known for developing the scholars, artists and athletes of character, but what isn’t sometimes obvious is that our students encompass the entire spectrum of abilities in all of these arenas. The students we honor every year in the Cum Laude induction ceremony are the academic superheroes of the school. These students have achieved the highest grades and are the top ten percent of their classes. That’s the easy part. In addition to demonstrated academic prowess, these students have amassed formidable arsenals of athletic achievements, artistic distinction and extraordinary service to humanity. Most of them accomplish all of this while carrying an astonishing load of honors and advanced courses. Their college essays read like the biographies of great scientists, authors, poets and musicians. The best colleges in the world vie to have them tread upon their campuses. Come April, many of these “high fliers” are presented with several choices of excellent universities at which to matriculate. But most importantly, these students are good people. As Cum Laude speaker Janice Murabayashi emphasized in her address – all of these achievements must accompany good character, if they are to be meaningful. When it comes to the new inductees to our Cum Laude Society, it’s mission accomplished.

Sarah Bakhiet, JD Assistant Head of School for Academics Cum Laude Society Member Since 2001

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Keith Aylwin Keith Aylwin came to Country Day in ninth grade where, the story goes, he was so engaged at his Outdoor Experiential Education trip to the Pali Institute that he braved the rock wall and ropes with a broken finger. He would apply this dogged determination in later pursuits, as a founding member of the Cyberpatriots Club, key member of the Robotics team, beloved JV Cross Country teammate, and lover of computers and programming.

Teddy Brokaw Teddy Brokaw has been described as the consummate scholar, artist, and athlete of character. Member of the Spanish Honor Society, Tri-M National Music Honor Society, three-year member of The Madrigal Singers, founding member of the Mad Men singing group, lead in the musical, valued water polo team mate, and only junior to serve the Ethics Council for three years. This young man is one of the best writers in the junior class and has been known to wow his students during the Dominican Republic Public Service trip with guitar serenades to improve the lesson.

David Castillejos David Castillejos has been described as a young man who “wants to challenge himself to be the best that he can be,’’ a true scholar, brilliant, clear in articulating his substantive thinking with impressive natural talent in the sciences and the arts. Varsity Cross Country’s most valuable runner, leading the team to 3rd in the state, member of the Tri-M National Music Honor Society and Madrigals, he thrives on all that he does, leaving faculty to wonder, how does he do it all?

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Sonya Jacobs Despite her generous and unassuming nature, Sonya Jacobs’ blistering mock trial cross-examinations have earned the respect of real world judges throughout San Diego. A passionate scholar with a flair for the sciences, she anchors the Mock Trial Team, avid member of the Academic League, co-editor of the school newspaper, member of the Spanish Honor Society, Tri- M National Music Honor Society, and two year Community Service Board member. Her commitment to scholarship is matched only by her commitment to her service, winning an essay contest that allowed her to give a year’s worth of music education to Doyle Elementary.

Alexa Parker Alexa Parker recently returned from France, where she competed with Team USA for Synchronized Ice Skating. She’s a very pleasant, bright and capable student, with a fine understanding of how mathematics relates to the natural world. She’s inquisitive and upbeat, she is a nicely focused presence in the science lab. She is a quiet, driven and serious scholar who achieves all while pursuing worldclass athletics.

Isabella Paydar Isabella Paydar is recognized for her intellectual drive, enthusiasm, and undying commitment to service. As a two-year community service board member, she serves on the Walk for Water Student Board, the Hand Up Student Board, and headed the Senior Prom for men and women living in a nearby senior care facility. She has travelled with the school to the Dominican Republic and Ghana.

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Vanessa Peterson Vanessa Peterson is described as one who does everything well and without a trace of hubris, this young lady is passionate about scholarship. One of her teachers explains, she is “industrious, humble about her abilities, and nails it without drawing attention to herself.�

Ben Schwartz Ben Schwartz is very bright, detail-oriented, an Academic League Superstar. No matter the challenge, he is the all-around achiever -- passionate scholar, and model for the life of the mind. Erudite, impassioned, with a keen sense of humor, he plumbs the depths of knowledge with an intensity matched by few. A two-year member of Community Service Board, co-editor of the school newspaper, Tri-M National Music Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society, member of both the Jazz Band and Upper School Orchestra, and brilliant student ambassador for Admissions. He does it all.

David Shaw David Shaw is genuinely interested in learning, curious, and, his teachers agree, a great kid to have in the class. He is also a member of the French Honors Society.

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Hye Young Shin Hye Young Shin has nearly exhausted the Advanced Placement curriculum. An independent thinker engrossed in science and technology, she is adept at experimental work and problem-solving. You may see her adding insights in class that help her classmates with their learning or sitting for an advanced placement test for a class she did not formally take.

Emily Springfield “Incredible sense of character” is the refrain most commonly used when describing Emily Springfield. Courageous, inspired, alive and a self-starter, there are few venues on this campus where you will not see this scholar excel. Whether on the softball field, running cross-country, competing with Academic League, serving on Ethics Council, or in the many academic courses where her work earned her this honor, her enthusiasm for learning new things is matched only by the adoration her community expresses for her. Her teaches say “Everyone is better when she is around.”

Brandon Wachs Brandon Wachs is recognized for his strong intellect, great ability and willingness to clearly explain difficult ideas to others. One of only six students chosen for a prestigious internship with the Joan Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice’s Worldlink Program, he has also travelled with the school to the Dominican Republic.

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Emily Cox Emily Virginia Cox is Country Day’s resident linguist. She is fluent in French, Arabic, and of course English, while she is also studying Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, and Sanskrit. She is the editor of Pegasus, leads our peer-tutoring program, and is an integral member of the Green Team. She also happens to be a fantastic graphic artist who has done some amazing work as president of the Comic Club, and recently captured the inauguration trip in graphic novel form.

Elena Dansky Elena Nicole Dansky is a voracious reader whose hunger for learning is insatiable. In the classroom, she is passionate about science and talented with every subject she studies. Outside of the classroom, you might find her co-leading Country Day’s Student Diversity Club, or knee deep in nutrient-rich soil working with our Garden Club, or perhaps working with our freshmen as co-leader of our Peer Leaders organization. If it is summertime, you might find her traveling on a service trip to Ghana or Thailand with Mrs. Nordenger, or maybe in a Neuroscience or Biology lab doing research.

Astrid Enciso Astrid Cecilia Enciso is fluent in English and Spanish and is taking her fourth year of Mandarin and third year of French. She loves to travel, having gone on Country Day trips to the Dominican Republic and China. She serves on our Community Service Board where her work with READ Global has been integral in raising funds to help build a library/community center in Bhutan. She is also on Ethics Council, and was one of our workshop leaders for Diversity Day.

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Alexander Garcia Alexander Sendra Garcia is a tech-savvy, entrepreneurial spirit who is fluent in two languages and well on his way in a third. This year, he is serving as a consultant to the Country Day Science Department, offering ideas as they pilot the use of iPads in the classroom. In the fall, he was the only high school participant working with graduate students at the University of Oxford Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation where he led his group to first prize on their business plan for creation of a high level educational technology. He is coleader of our Peer Leaders, on Ethics Council, coleader of Country Day’s Diversity Club, and also an accomplished hip-hop dancer.

Ryan Hastings-Echo Ryan Zachary Hastings-Echo manages to combine incredible talent in the dramatic and musical arts with extremely keen intellect and passion for learning. He has been selected for the California All-State Choir two years in a row (something no Country Day student in recent history has accomplished!), and who can forget him as Adolpho in "The Drowsy Chaperone", in addition to every other role he has played at Country Day. In class, he raises the level of discussion to a very sophisticated level, but his learning extends well beyond the classroom. He recently taught himself fourth dimensional physics as well as psychology and he is currently studying Linear Algebra independently.

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Jonathan Levine Between Spanish, English, Hebrew, and Mandarin, Jonathan Avram Levine ably speaks four languages. He is the co-founder of our Jewish Student Union and is a serious student of the Talmud. He travels to Israel each summer for cultural development. He serves as the Vice President of the San Diego chapter of the National Community of Synagogue Youth charged with planning events for local Jewish students. Having skipped a grade early in his academic career, this young man will be one of the youngest students ever to have graduated from Country Day and also happens to be captain of the soccer and lacrosse teams.

Jessica Lewis Jessica Cardenas Lewis is described as a humble and generous individual who is passionate about politics. On our recent inauguration trip, she was in charge of media outreach with the Union Tribune and NBC, coordinating and participating in interviews on behalf of the Country Day contingent. She is very active with the City Club, taking advantage of every event offered and is also a member of the National Spanish Honor Society. Her leadership extends to the realm of athletics where she has served as captain of our softball team for three years running.

Chang Lu Chang Lu decided to travel thousands of miles from the comfort of her family and friends in order to pursue a more rigorous curriculum and a unique cultural experience. Despite having to learn each subject as it is taught in a language other than her native tongue, her work in all disciplines has been extraordinary. She has faced quite a bit of adversity, but approaches each challenge as an opportunity for growth and never abandons her positive outlook and enthusiasm. She is passionate about science and has every intention of using her talents to advocate for the environment.

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Kailyn Miller Kailyn Barbara Miller has been a true leader on campus, working diligently toward the goal of a green, sustainable Country Day campus. As president of Green Team, she took the initiative to meet with the Country Day board and successfully presented the idea of hosting Earth Day on campus. As a junior, she earned the Science Department award and over the summers, she has held internships with a cardiac electro-physiologist at Scripps Mercy as well as in a Chemistry Lab at Cylene Pharmaceuticals. She is also the captain of the mock trial prosecution witness team.

Kristen Mizutani In addition to her academic prowess, Kristen Hiromi Mizutani happens to be the best women’s golfer to have graced the Country Day links as she has earned All-Coastal conference honors each of the past three seasons. She is an active volunteer as she works with the Arthritis Foundation and is a devoted mathematics peer tutor on campus. Her teachers call her brilliant, dedicated, and one of the most responsible and selfless young women they have ever taught.

Alexandra Morgan Alexandra Lynne Morgan is seen up on stage announcing the talks to be given by the doctors and scientists she has been instrumental in bringing to campus for the Future Doctors of America Club. She has held an internship at a veterinary hospital in Denver each summer, and also participated in the University of California COSMOS program studying pathology, microbiology and veterinary science. This young woman is also actively involved with National Charity League, working at exceptional athlete events, serving meals to seniors, and volunteering at the Helen Woodward Center.

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Rachel Schoenfeld Rachel Claire Schoenfeld is a two-year member of our TRACE program, educating her peers on aids awareness. She has spent her summers as a camp counselor at the Jewish Community Center, at the Helen Woodward Center, volunteering through National Charity League, and traveling to Washington D.C. to participate at the Social Action Leadership Institute. She also serves on the JCC Teen Leadership Council, a mentoring program designed to help local teens become community leaders. She is described as a fabulous teacher, mentor and leader.

Lily Wolfenzon Lily Grace Wolfenzon has been on Community Service Board for the last two years and has done a great deal of work with the Challenged Athletes Foundation. She was instrumental in bringing Samuel Nehemiah to campus to speak on behalf of challenged athletes, and helped raise nearly $1,400 for the organization through Fly’s 4 on 4 soccer tournament. She is a two-year captain and all-league competitor in soccer and has been recruited to play at the University of Chicago. Her teachers describe her as immensely gifted and equally humble.

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LJCDS Cum Laude Profiles - 2013  

LJCDS Cum Laude Profiles - 2013

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