Way to Go: Kya Banks, Patchogue-Medford

Kya Banks, a sophomore at Patchogue-Medford High School,

Kya Banks, a sophomore at Patchogue-Medford High School, is the regional winner of an essay contest held in honor of Black History Month. (Credit: Handout)

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Kya Banks, a sophomore at Patchogue-Medford High School, is the regional winner of an essay contest held in honor of Black History Month.

Her 500-word essay about the Tuskegee Airmen, a group of African-American pilots who fought in World War II, won in Optimum's Power to Learn Black History Month "Double Victory" Contest.

The contest focused on the students' exploration of the airmen through the History Channel's original documentary "Double Victory," which described how they fought a war on two fronts -- helping to defeat fascism in Europe and racial injustice on the home front. It was open to students in grades 9-12 in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

"I'm an African-American, and I feel like seeing how the airmen overcame challenges inspires me to be my own person no matter what anyone says," said Banks, 16. In her essay, she wrote: "These men were on a mission to prove whoever said they could not do it, wrong."

For winning, she was presented with a tablet computer, and her English teacher, Karen Varacalli, was honored with an iPad Mini for encouraging student participation in the contest.

Optimum is owned by Cablevision, which owns Newsday.

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