A night full of recognitions

Board of ed cites athletes and outgoing board members

West high-school tennis coach Kristen Bradford (left) and Hannah Azar (right) received the Coach of the Year Award and the Courage Award, respectively, at the Dec. 20 board of ed meeting. Bradford’s award came from the South Jersey Tennis Coaches Association. (Special to The Sun)

The Cherry Hill board of education held a recognition ceremony for athletes at its Dec. 20 meeting, recognizing their performances during the fall season. 

One athlete – sophomore Hannah Azar – received the South Jersey Tennis Coaches Association Courageous Award. She was diagnosed with severe scoliosis in 2020, at a time when she wanted to play tennis for Cherry Hill West. 

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Azar approached tennis coach Kristen Bradford to make that happen, then went through a “bracing physical therapy program” and spinal infusion surgery in November 2021. She then developed two staph infections that required another operation.

“Her goal was to come back as a sophomore and play for Cherry Hill West tennis, which she did,” Bradford said. “ … She had four matches throughout the year where she was in three sets lasting around three hours long, and she continued to battle as our number one singles player against the top players in South Jersey.”

Though Azar was in constant pain as she played – and had another surgery last November to have rods in her back removed – “her elite performance and passion for the game have earned a respect and esteem for her and her teammates,” according to a proclamation from the state senate and assembly, signed by leaders in both groups who cited Azar’s strong character and boundless determination.

Bradford was also recognized at the ceremony as Coach of the Year by the coaches association. East tennis coach Mary Jewett said that although the coach of the year typically goes to someone who won a state championship, this year, the two coaches who fit that category didn’t win. 

“Coach Bradford inspires confidence, innovation and action,” said Jewett. “She’s infectiously encouraging, she’s uncompromisingly supportive. Coach Bradford, I think, is intuitive … She develops a mindset focusing on the process and capacity, not just the abilities, the results and the outputs. Coach Bradford is also a non-stop learner.”

Other team recognitions included Beck’s boys soccer team, East’s girls cross country team, West’s girls soccer team, West’s boys soccer team and East’s football team.

In addition to the board’s usual business, it also bade farewell to three outgoing board members: Kimberly Friddell, who resigned earlier this year; Rosy Arroyo; and board President Ben Ovadia.

Board members reflected on the impact that each of them have made on the board as well as within the community.

“All three of you have taught me tremendously important lessons in governance and in patience,” said board member Joel Mayer. “…  While neither of you are on the board further, know that your perspectives and lessons have resonated with me and will continue.”

Another board member, Jen Fleisher, thanked Ovadia for his dedication.

“Your vision, drive and passion for the district is something I’ve truly appreciated, especially when it came to the bond (referendum),” Fleisher remarked. “You pushed us all very much and I think we all appreciated it, especially afterwards, but I appreciate all your drive. There’s no doubt that you’ve definitely made this district a better, more successful place for our students.”

In other news;

  • The board reminded families that there will be school on Jan. 2, but the district will have off on Jan. 6 for Three Kings Day
  • The district approved two donations, $5,000 from the Harris Kojetin Family Trust to be used to purchase art supplies and equipment for the Alternative High School and another $1,000 from Patient First to be used to purchase outdoor recess equipment at Johnson Elementary School.
  • Superintendent Dr. Joseph Meloche addressed several comments made about parents not being allowed to attend their elementary school student’s winter concert and explained that around five years ago, there were big discussions involving the elementary music teachers, parents and groups of parents and the determination was made that winter concerts would be done in school for students and the spring concerts would be done in the evening for parents to attend. “That has not changed,” he said. The focus for this had been the developmental abilities of the student and the amount of time they had to rehearse and practice.

The next board of education meeting will be on Jan. 10 at 7 p.m.

 

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