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Way to Go: Gabrielle Frandina, Garden City

A Garden City teenager won a top spot in the American Association of Teachers of Italian poetry contest for a second straight year.

Gabrielle Frandina, an eighth-grader at Garden City Middle School, took first place in the middle-school level of the association's 29th annual poetry contest, held last month at SUNY Old Westbury.

The contest challenged youngsters throughout Long Island to recite an Italian poem of up to 20 lines for a panel of judges.

Frandina recited the poem "L'accento sull'A" by the late Italian writer and journalist Gianni Rodari. The poem tells of a boy who asked his mother to correct his grammar on a wall he had vandalized, Frandina said.

"This year, I wanted to do something fun," Frandina, 13, said of her choice. "I made sure to say it slowly and fluently. My entire family is Italian, so this means so much to me."

Judges consider participants' pronunciation, intonation, interpretation and poise. Great Neck students Elena DiChiara and Rose Kelly took second and third place, respectively, in the competition's middle-school level. Winners received a medal and a certificate.

Frandina recently had the leading role in her school's presentation of "Bye Bye Birdie" and is on the soccer team.

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