Kate Bender was an absolute sweetheart who will never be forgotten by those she worked alongside of and helped in their professional careers. She was well-known around Huntington UFSD for the longtime role she played in the personnel office.
For many years, every teacher joining the faculty worked with Mrs. Bender during the hiring process and later to secure their permanent state certification.
Mrs. Bender’s well-earned retirement was cut short when she was felled by pancreatic cancer following an incredibly hard-fought battle against a really terrible disease. She was appreciated for a wicked sense of humor and she could deadpan with the best of them. She never lost her upbeat nature or smile, even in the midst of her titanic health struggle.
After Mrs. Bender passed away in December 2017, a scholarship was created in her memory. Her longtime co-workers help fund the new award. This year’s Kate Bender Memorial Scholarship Award was presented to graduating senior Erik Flores Reyes.
Kate Bender “truly epitomized perseverance, patience and positivity and is missed by many,” the Bender family told the crowd gathered in the high school auditorium for the senior scholarships and awards ceremony. The award criteria requires the ultimate recipient to “demonstrate persistence and determination in overcoming or managing some sort of obstacle or challenge.”
An Advanced Placement Scholar with Distinction and member of nine separate academic honor societies, Mr. Reyes earned a full four-year scholarship valued at more than $200,000 to study at Boston College.
Mr. Reyes immigrated to the United States from El Salvador as a 12 year old. Since then, he has worked hard in his classes, participated in clubs and sports and worked a part-time job.
Among the courses that most interested him this past year were Advanced Placement Computer Science A, AP Drawing and Italian III Honors. He ran on the Blue Devil varsity cross country team and track teams.
President of the Spanish Honor Society and secretary of the Science Honor Society, Mr. Reyes and served as co-president of United Amigos and treasurer of the New World Club. He was on the staff of The Huntingtonian, the high school’s yearbook.
Named a National Hispanic Scholar by the College Board, Mr. Reyes garnered a string of school and community awards, including being honored by the Suffolk County Human Rights Commission & Inter-Faith Anti-Bias Task Force.
A Huntington High School social ambassador, Mr. Reyes participated in numerous community service and volunteer projects, including Safe Halloween, Relay For Life, Science Story Night, the Art Honor Society’s Memory Project, Crochet for a Cause and the collection and donation of clothes for the homeless.