In 2013, 12-year-old Aviel Berkowitz flinched as he handed his “pathetic” 6th grade report card to Boys Town Jerusalem Principal Rabbi Elimelech Yaakov for scrutiny. “I’d been rejected to so many schools by now that I’d nearly run out of hope,” he recalled.  Following his interview, Aviel was shocked when the rabbi told him he believed in him and accepted him to junior high.

Today, 18-year-old Aviel graduated Boys Town Jerusalem High School with high honors – plus a coveted international license in hand as a cybersecurity practitioner.

“Truthfully, I was unhappy at Boys Town at first, but I soon fell in love with the school,” he admits. To be exact, Aviel first fell in love with the extracurricular activities. Instructor Shlomo Serok, destined to become influential in Aviel’s success, organized an after-school class for 7th graders in higher math that captivated Aviel. The following year he joined the extracurricular Robotics Team which then swept to victory in the FLL Robotics Competition.

In high school, Aviel majored in Cisco Computer Networking, headed by Shlomo Serok. “The material was tough, but Serok would stay after school to tutor us,” Aviel notes. As Aviel excelled, Serok chose him for a new endeavor: the first “Project Based Learning” (PBL) course in Israel, being initiated by Boys Town Jerusalem. This (extracurricular) course challenged students to learn through identifying a real-world problem and applying  technology to develop a solution. Here Aviel created a method to dispatch first-aid supplies via drone to swiftly reach the scene of an accident.

The opportunity of a lifetime came in Aviel’s senior year. When Boys Town Jerusalem was tapped by the Prime Minister’s National Cyber Directorate to pilot a cutting-edge course in cybersecurity, Aviel was selected for the intensive 150-hour (extracurricular) course. “Now I was the one to tutor my friends who needed help,” he smiled. The course culminated in the daunting CSP (Certified Cyber Security Practitioner) exam for global authorization. Aviel and his 31 classmates all passed, making BTJ the nation’s top-scoring school.

Aviel Berkowitz himself was named the most exemplary BTJ student.

“I’ll always be grateful to this school,” Aviel declares, as he now begins his university studies within a select IDF program to groom high-level officers.

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