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Way to Go!: Jacqueline Paduano

Jacqueline Paduano, a sixth-grader at East Lake Elementary

Jacqueline Paduano, a sixth-grader at East Lake Elementary School in Massapequa Park Photo Credit: Massapequa School District

A Massapequa sixth-grader’s essay about music icon Stevie Wonder won the grand prize for her division in an essay contest honoring African-American icons.

Jacqueline Paduano, 12, of East Lake Elementary School, took the top spot in the middle school division of Optimum Community’s inaugural Black History Month Essay Contest. Students were asked to write 500 words or less on an African-American, past or present, with whom they would like to spend a day.

“He is so interesting and inspiring because he is blind,” Jacqueline said. “He is a great example of a person who has fulfilled his dreams.” For winning, she received an iPad and keyboard.

The contest drew 450-plus entries from students in grades 6-8 across the tri-state area. Optimum Community is a Cablevision initiative focused on connecting schools and communities; Cablevision owns Newsday.

Jacqueline chose to write about the legendary songwriter after having previously performed a tap routine to his 1970 song, “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours.”

“I am immensely proud of all of my students, especially Jacqueline, who writes from her heart — and to me that’s what writing is about,” said Kim Cawley, who teaches English language arts at East Lake Elementary.

Principal Thomas McKillop III also praised the winner: “Jacqueline is very insightful and her essay showcased that.”

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