Weber School valedictorian Avi Botwinick is a well-rounded individual with an amazing personality the school body is proud to be sending off to college to represent it, said Rabbi Edwards Harwitz, head of school.
“He is a mind and a mensch. A mind because you can see his intellect and dedication as a student, he invested himself significantly in his education. He made his academic life his core, because he really loves learning,” said Harwitz. “A mensch because he is not only warm and caring, but he is genuine by the way he conducts himself. He is respected by peers and teachers.”
A mensch (German or Yiddish) means being a person of character, quality and values, especially in the Jewish community.
“It feels good, nice,” Botwinick said of being the valedictorian. “Everyone has different strengths. I am really happy I was able to excel academically,” “We all excel at something.”
Botwinick preferred not to disclose his test score results.
The Grant Park resident had an earlier calling that defined the kind of student he was going to be.
“I got a 60 when I was in sixth grade and I did not like it. I felt like something switch in me,” said Botwinick, adding that he must have been 11 or 12 by then.
That moment made him realize he wanted more and made sure he study every night.
“You cannot afford not to review,” he said.
Botwinick, who defines himself as a visual learner, said he appreciates the Weber teaching methods, in which classes are not given in lecture form. Teachers use different techniques including books, PowerPoint presentations, etc.
He is also dedicated outside the classroom, where he was a student ambassador who helped new students adapt to high school once they arrive in the ninth grade, taking the time to tutor them in science subjects.
Botwinick also volunteered in a hospital while in middle school, after his father Jay Botwinick had a heart attack. What the doctors did to save his father left a deep impression on Botwinick, leaving him with the idea of wanting to become a doctor one day. This made complete sense to Harwitz.
“His passion for science and physics is so clear, and it is really expressed in all his performance.”
In keeping his volunteer work active, Botwinick is president of the Atlanta intown chapter for the B'nai B'rith Youth Organization, which is the leading pluralistic teen movement aspiring to involve more Jewish teens in more meaningful Jewish experiences, according to its website.
As an integral part of his preparation as an individual, he also has practiced Shaolin Kung Fu and Tai Chi.
“I am now a second-degree black belt in Shaolin Kung Fu and a first-degree black sash in Tai Chi,” he said, adding he started mixed martial arts at American Top Team Atlanta last summer.
Harwitz’s fondness for Botwinick has granted him a high opinion of the student, he said, as he sends him to the University of Miami on a full-tuition scholarship as a part of its Foote Fellows Honors Program.
“I believe he represents the best of Weber’s mission and values and what our faculty hopes for in a student and school graduate,” Harwitz said.
At Miami Botwinick is planning to major in pre-medicine, with a Plan B consisting of a physics degree. He said he also wants to have an immersion experience in Israel in the near future.
High schools in the Neighbor Newspapers’ coverage area have also named their valedictorians and salutatorians.
Cross Keys: V David Nguyen; S Agnele Sewa
Ben Franklin: V Leigh Catherall; S Robert Deane
Holy Innocents’: V William Thomas Epperson; S Greyson Elisabeth Burnett
Lovett: V Charlotte Lee; S Sarah Corning
Mount Vernon: V Derek Liu; S Anjana Anandkumar
North Atlanta: V Lydia Zemmali; S Bethany Bell
North Springs: V Sanjay John; S Abigail Szabo.
Riverwood: V Pascal Acree; S Andrew Kyle Weil
Weber: S Jessica Bachner
Wesleyan: V Anna Brown; S Hannah Peterson
Whitefield: V Logan Pearce; S Jake Gilbert
Woodward: V Roshni Kailar; S McKinley Paul
Editor’s note: The Howard School and the Galloway School do not select valedictorians and salutatorians. Email messages to Atlanta Country Day, Atlanta International, Brandon Hall, Campbell, Cumberland, Marist, St. Pius X and Westminster requesting their valedictorian and salutatorian information were not returned by press time. Atlanta Girls’, Holy Spirit Preparatory and Pace had not announced valedictorians and salutatorians by press time.