A Hempstead student recently took top honors in an annual essay contest coordinated by the Irish Cultural Society of the Garden City Area.

Maggie Rogers, a senior at Sacred Heart Academy, won first place and a $250 prize for her 300-word dialogue based upon "A Painful Case," a short story by Irish author James Joyce. The contest challenged teens to write a dialogue between the two main characters at a crucial point in their relationship.

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A total of 425 entries were received from local students.

"I was pretty excited," said Rogers, 18, who said the essay was as an extra-credit assignment for her AP English class. "I'm more of a math-science person, so it was a shocker."

The contest's second-place winners were Mary Cervantes of MacArthur High School in Levittown, Kathryn Veron of H. Frank Carey High School in Franklin Square, and Joseph White of Island Trees High School in Levittown. The third-place winners were Hannah Artura of Island Trees High School and Kate Shanley of Manhasset High School.

Rogers is captain of her school's varsity basketball and softball teams. She is also a member of the school's Mission Club as well as the National, Math, Science, French and Tri-M Music honor societies.