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.

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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.