Bay Ridge Community Council hosts 40th annual essay contest
Guest Speaker Gabriel Gale Offers Words of Inspiration to the Award Winner
Twenty-five aspiring young writers were honored for their creative efforts at the Bay Ridge Community Council’s (BRCC) 40th annual essay contest. The deserving award recipients included fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth grade students from schools throughout the borough. The ceremony was held at I.S. 259 William McKinley at 7301 Fort Hamilton Parkway.
Community leader, and incoming president of the BRCC, Ralph Succar hosted the event that brought together an auditorium full of proud families to share in their children’s accomplishments. The essay co-chairs were Linda Rubino and Madeline Sbarra.
The guest speaker was author Gabriel Gale, who offered insightful words of inspiration to the students. Gale was born and raised in Bay Ridge and has just released his new book “Ages of Oz,” a part of a fantasy series that carries on the legacy of L. Frank Baum’s “The Wizard of Oz” by adding an exciting new prequel to the classic stories focusing on the exploits of powerful sorceress Glinda, the Good Witch of the South.
“Everything started for me here in Bay Ridge” said Gale. “I have a really long history with the Bay Ridge Community Council, probably over 25 years in various capacities. I remember when I sat in these chairs and won the essay contest and the photo contest, too. This award can lead to fantastic things, and I want to tell you to take every opportunity to find what your individual gifts are and pursue it with all of your passion. If you can do that, you will do amazing things.”
Gale presented each of winners with their plague, along with a personally signed copy of his book. He also posed for photos with each student.
Each grade had a specific topic to write about and the winning entries were selected by a group of 12 judges. For the fifth grade, the first place winner was Tiffany Roqueta from P.S. 127 and second place went to Gregory Caldara from P.S./I.S. 104. Other fifth grade award recipients were Madison Lopez of P.S. 69, Emme Lisa Shah of P.S. 170, Kai xuan Xiao of P.S. 176, Louana Dopffer of P.S. 185, Chloe Li of P.S.204, Matthew Iglesias of Adelphi Academy and Julia Sala from St. Patrick Catholic Academy.
Taking first place for grade six was Lauren Polito of St. Patrick Catholic Academy and second place was given to Johnathan Bernadeu of St. Bernadette Catholic Academy. Other sixth graders being recognized were Mohammad Mia from P.S./I.S. 104, Fiana Lin from I.S. 187 and Timothy Chirkov from Adelphi Academy.
The seventh grade first-place winner was Gianna Scuteri from St. Bernadette Catholic Academy, and second place went to Karissa Nieves of I.S. 201. Also receiving recognition for their essays were Madelyn Jones of P.S./I.S. 104, Kayla Gaisi of I.S. 187, Isaac Nasimov of Adelphi Academy and Matteo Rotatori of St. Patrick Catholic Academy.
Saad Ghaffouli of P.S./I.S. 104 took first place for the eighth grade and Crystal Secaira of I.S. 201 took home second place. The other award recipients were Kevin Ziko of I.S. 259, Eric Furman of Adelphi Academy and Gianna Veneziano of St. Patrick Catholic Academy.
Awards were also handed out for the BRCC photo contest. Student-level awards went to Isabel Vargas (Gold), Christie Fernandez (Silver) and Valentina Garcia Bronz). Adult-level awards were presented to Kathleen Devine (Gold), Steven Joseph Najjar (Silver) and Sheila Doherty (Bronze).