Students from Brentwood High School and Sanford H. Calhoun High School, in Merrick, are among the winners of a local essay contest themed around bullying prevention for autistic and developmentally disabled individuals.
Brentwood senior Samantha Barbera and Sanford H. Calhoun junior Samantha Mack took first and second place, respectively, in the annual contest sponsored by Life's WORC/The Family Center for Autism in partnership with the Claire Friedlander Family Foundation. Isabella Sicilian, a sophomore at Townsend Harris High School in Flushing, Queens, tied for second place with Mack.
This year's contest asked students in grades nine to 12 to respond to the question: "How can I lead my school and community to become a bully-free place for individuals with autism and developmental disabilities?"
"I can lead my school and community to become a bully-free place for individuals with autism and developmental disabilities by helping others to embrace differences and see the joy in doing so," Barbera wrote in her winning essay. "In my experience of being the little sister to my autistic brother, I've spent my life wrestling with the difficulties of intolerance that permeates in our society towards the autistic."
A total of 71 entries, which were required to be between 400 and 500 words, were received from schools in Nassau, Suffolk and Queens counties.