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Way to Go! Commack student wins "Say Something" essay contest

Melody Luo, a junior at Commack High School,

Melody Luo, a junior at Commack High School, was the first-place winner of the "Say Something Essay Contest." Credit: Melody Luo

A Commack student's essay about the rise of violence against the Asian community has taken the top spot in a local essay contest.

Melody Luo, a junior at Commack High School, has been named the first-place winner of the "Say Something" Student Essay Contest coordinated by the Suffolk County Sheriff's Office in collaboration with the Sandy Hook Promise Foundation. The contest received submissions from 91 participants countywide.

Luo's winning submission addressed everything from her Asian heritage to a culture of silence that she said helps explain why hate crimes, bullying and harassment are underreported in the Asian community.

"From a young age, I learned to never speak back to elders, this being inclusive of my parents, my family members, my teachers, and more," Luo wrote. "In turn, I've seen this manifest into a culture of people that try their best to avoid confrontation. We, as Asian-Americans, are stereotypically acknowledged to be submissive in a world dominated by opinionated leaders."

The contest's second-place spot went to Meaghan Endres, a junior at St. John the Baptist Diocesan High School in West Islip, and third place went to Brentwood High School sophomore Juliana Ayala.

"Our kids on Long Island are smart and worldly, and they are not only eager to express themselves through their writing, but they are also activists and upstanders," said Suffolk County Sheriff Errol D. Toulon Jr.

— MICHAEL R. EBERT

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