Emely Rodriguez, an East Islip High School sophomore, is one...

Emely Rodriguez, an East Islip High School sophomore, is one of two district winners at the Suffolk County level of PTA Reflections, a student art recognition contest. Credit: Handout

Emely Rodriguez uses her hearing impairment as inspiration for her artwork.

The East Islip High School sophomore, who is deaf, is one of two district winners at the Suffolk County level of PTA Reflections, a student art recognition contest. This year's theme was "Diversity Is . . . "

Rodriguez's winning photo depicts twin sisters, one of whom is deaf, gesturing love for each other at the beach.

"I created it to demonstrate the difference between the hearing world and deaf world," said Rodriguez, whose photo is advancing to the state level.

Rodriguez, who came to the United States from the Dominican Republic when she was 8, learned sign language and written English through a program offered by the Cleary School for the Deaf in Nesconset. She began attending classes at East Islip in the seventh grade.

At her high school, the Cleary School provides her with sign-language interpreters in her classes so that she can follow the instruction.

"Emely is an outstanding student," said Richard Stelle, coordinator of Cleary's Secondary Program. "Because Emely has learned that language is the key to her future, she is a voracious reader and always has a book."

Rodriguez also is a member of East Islip's Yearbook Club and the track team.

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