For the past 92 years — with the exception of 1943 — Avoda has given awards to deserving Jewish high school graduating seniors from Atlantic and, more recently, Cape May counties. The 2019 awards, totaling $100,000, were presented at an awards dinner on June 5 at Harbor Pines Country Club in Egg Harbor Township.
This year’s recipients:
• Estelle Richardson, Ocean City High School. Richardson lives in Ventnor and attends Ocean City High School as a choice student. Throughout high school, Richardson has loved being the publicist of the National Honor Society and the copy editor of the yearbook. She has also been an active member of the Literary Magazine, Math Club and Spanish Club. Additionally, Richardson has enjoyed volunteering at the Ventnor Senior Center for the past 6 years and dancing at the Ventnor Cultural Arts Center. Her hobbies include volunteering, spending time with her friends and family, and listening to music from the 1960s-'80s. Richardson will graduate from high school with the ranking of summa cum laude and has a GPA of 4.89. After high school, Richardson will attend Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, with a major in chemistry and a minor in English with the hopes of becoming a doctor.
• Sara Strenger, Mainland Regional High School. Strenger is a senior at Mainland, where she is captain of the computer science team and a four-year varsity cheerleader. She is a volunteer math tutor and was a madricha for both Kulanu School of Jewish Studies and Beth Israel Sunday School. In her free time, Strenger enjoys programming, drawing, and singing and playing guitar. During the summers she works at Two Cents Plain in Margate and performs on the Ocean City Boardwalk.
Last summer, she was one of 70 N.J. students selected for the Governor's School of Engineering and Technology at Rutgers University. There, she took part in a research project centered on senior technology in smart homes. Next year, Strenger will study computer science at the University of Washington's Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science and Engineering. She hopes to one day work as a software developer engineer in Silicon Valley.
• Emily Locke, Atlantic City High School. Locke is a senior at Atlantic City High School. In the fall, she will begin pursuing a major in animal science in the honors program at Delaware Valley University in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. It has been a dream of hers to become a veterinarian since childhood, when her family adopted their first dog, Jake. At Delaware Valley University, her studies will be centered around large animals, especially horses. She looks forward to the many opportunities the university offers in this area of animal science specifically.
At Atlantic City High School, she is the treasurer of the National Honor Society. In addition to her school work, she works with Dr. Jessica Grant at the Ventnor Veterinary Office, where she gained experience in dealing with some of the day-to-day responsibilities of a veterinarian. As a 2019 Avoda awardee, she hopes to grow in knowledge of her passions with the support of the club for years to come.
Avoda was formed in 1928 by five Atlantic City businessmen to financially assist young Jewish men in their pursuit of higher learning. As the organization grew, women became eligible and have been award recipients and officers and board members.
Past award winners include prominent educators, business leaders, philanthropists and professionals in almost every field of endeavor.