Zoe Bohn ’14 will speak at graduation June 6 as valedictorian, President Rick Commons announced at the annual Cum Laude Induction Ceremony last week.
The valedictorian is elected by a faculty vote every year based on academic ability, Commons said. Bohn has been playing piano for 11 years, co-captained the girl’s basketball team for her second time this winter and sings as a third-year Bel Canto member.
Bohn said she’s finished writing her speech, and plans to thank “everyone who has contributed to our Harvard-Westlake experience.”
“I want to make sure that it’s about everyone’s experiences, not just mine,” she said. “I want to talk about Justin and Julia, too, because they should be here with us right now.”
Bohn said she will probably feel anxious about speaking when graduation day is closer, especially because she’s never spoken in front of as many people as will be there.
Her prior speaking experience includes an impromptu speech at a basketball banquet and debate class in eighth grade, she said.
“I will be looking out over the heads of everyone so I don’t get nervous,” she said. “Actually, my friend from out of town is going to be there, so I might be looking at her.”
While at Harvard-Westlake, Bohn said she became especially close with her science and English teachers, especially her AP Physics C: Mechanics teacher, John Feulner.
It was this course, which she said that she loved, that made her consider majoring in Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University, where she will start school in fall, Bohn said.
She plans to choose between Mechanical Engineering and Symbolic Systems, which combines psychology, computer science, philosophy and behavioral sciences.
Bohn was one of 59 seniors inducted to the Cum Laude Society in what Head of School Jeanne Huybrechts called “the highest-GPA gathering ever in Rugby” as she opened the ceremony.
This was also history teacher Ken Neisser’s first year as Cum Laude chapter president, and he dedicated much of his speech to former chapter president history teacher Eric Zwemer.
When Huybrechts told her two weeks before the induction ceremony that she would speak at graduation, Bohn called her mom, and then her dad.
“My mom was really, really happy,” Bohn said. “It was a reaction of shock first, and then, ‘I’m so proud of you.’”
Bohn’s dad accidentally left her a voicemail of himself telling all his coworkers the news, she said, and her twin brother, Zach Bohn ’14, has been “so supportive, he’s adorable.”
“I had no idea that’s why Dr. Huybrechts wanted to talk to me,” she said. “I thought it was something about financial aid.”
After Commons announced that Bohn was valedictorian and ended the induction ceremony, all the seniors inducted into the Cum Laude Society gave her a standing ovation as well as applause.
“As soon as I stood up, everyone came over and started hugging me, so I did that for about five minutes,” she said.
Bohn’s mom gave her flowers after she had gotten through the crowd.
“Everyone has been so nice and supportive since finding out,” Bohn said. “I think I’ve gotten a hug, handshake or a high-five from everyone in my grade and from a lot of people in 10th and 11th as well.”