Kate Bender was an absolute sweetheart who will always be remembered by those she worked with an helped in their professional careers. She was best known around the Huntington School District 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-deserved retirement was cut short when she was felled by pancreatic cancer following an incredibly hard-fought battle against the terrible disease. She was known 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 health struggle, which was serious.
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 Lily O’Heir.
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 ceremony. The award criteria requires the ultimate recipient to “demonstrate persistence and determination in overcoming or managing some sort of obstacle or challenge.”
Ms. O’Heir is headed to City University of New York – Hunter College. She is interested in pursuing a degree in either social work or psychology.
The teenager said her success can be attributed to “setting goals and taking action to achieve them.” Ms. O’Heir especially enjoyed the time she spent playing on the Blue Devil varsity tennis team. She said the experience resulted in her making “some amazing friends while learning how to work hard.” She added that she realized “that progress doesn’t have to happen immediately.”
Kate Bender would have loved Ms. O’Heir. They both possessed wonderful personalities and thought Huntington and the people who comprise the district are the best.
Ms. O’Heir performed at the K-Factor talent show, was a finalist in the Long Island flute competition and one of a select group of teenagers chosen to participate in the Girls Leadership Worldwide program.
A member of five different academic honor societies, Ms. O’Heir graduated as a Distinguished Senior in a nod to her sterling record across all subjects and departments.