In 1906, Dr. Abram W. Harris, Director of the Tome School, Port Deposit, Maryland, was determined that scholastic achievement of students in secondary schools should be accorded as much recognition as that given to other accomplishments. He envisioned a Society, modeled on Phi Beta Kappa, which would encourage and recognize true scholarship. Therefore, Dr. Harris with the Phi Beta Kappa members of the Tome School faculty - Messrs. Curran, Ewing, Rich, and Tunstall - organized an interscholastic scholarship fraternity.
At the first meeting in May 1906, officers were elected and conditions were defined under which new chapters could be formed. The name Alpha Delta Tau Fraternity was adopted. The words Areté, Diké, and Timé were chosen for the Society's motto. Dr. Harris, who was elected President at this 1906 meeting, held that office until his death in 1935. The strong position of the Society today can be attributed to his long-standing dedication.
Since Dr. Harris and his associates believed that chapters should be established only in schools of superior academic quality, the group moved slowly in granting chapters. By December 1908, charters had been granted to Tome, Phillips Exeter, Phillips Academy, Evanston, Penn Charter, Centenary Collegiate, and Brooklyn Polytechnic, all schools for boys. The fraternity held its first General Convention in December 1908.
During the Society's existence there has been no deviation from the original objective of the founder - namely, the recognition of superior scholarship. Ten years later, Greek letter societies at the secondary school level were becoming primarily social groups. For this reason the name of the fraternity was changed from Alpha Delta Tau to the Cum Laude Society. At this time the Society was incorporated under the laws of the state of Maryland.
Today, membership in the Cum Laude Society numbers 354 schools. On November 22, 2002, the Board of Officers and Regents of the Cum Laude Society awarded Tupelo High School a local chapter and seventeen students were inducted as charter members on May 5, 2003. Tupelo High School is only one of twenty-four public high schools in the nation with a chapter.
The Cum Laude Society is devoted to the pursuit of academic excellence. Students selected for membership in the society represent the highest level of academic achievement at THS. A candidate should possess an academic record that demonstrates
•Superior intellectual capability,
•A willingness to pursue a difficult curriculum that includes accelerated, honors, and advanced placement coursework,
•An indication that full academic potential has been reached and extended,
•Strong evidence that intellectual interests that broaden and enrich the classroom experience have been pursued outside the classroom.