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Board Honors Memorial Essay Winners

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The Board of Education honored the winners of this year’s Andrew Stern Memorial Essay Contest at its January board meeting. 

East Rockaway Junior-Senior High School freshman Madeleine Prucha (high school category), seventh-grader Frank Passanisi (middle school category) and Centre Avenue School sixth-grade student Kylie Curtis (elementary school category) were chosen from a pool of 800 student responses.

This annual contest honors East Rockaway graduate Andrew Stern, who was killed during the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. The contest is run by members of the Stern family, and this year’s essay topic encouraged students to think about how people on Sept. 11, 2001 had to face their fears, and then talk about a time in their life when they had to face a fear and how they overcame that fear.

“Some of them were really tough to read and some were also really heartwarming, like our three essay winners this year,” Andrew Stern’s sister Lisa Burch said. “We selected the three essay winners this year because each one clearly wrote about what they were afraid of, whether it was the water or a failure or an injury, and they told us how they tackled that fear and how they persevered afterwards.”

Before presenting the winners with a certificate and a check, the Stern family invited each student to share their winning essays with those in attendance. 

Superintendent of Schools Lisa Ruiz thanked the Stern family for offering this experience to the students. “This year’s topic was very moving and gave all of our students an opportunity to explore their fears and the depths of themselves so thank you again.”