Elementary Schoolers Win Essay Contest About Inspiring Women

P.S. 277 4th grader Angelina Vilar, center, holding up her award. (Photo: Alex Ellefson / Sheepshead Bites)

P.S. 277 4th grader Angelina Vilar, center, holding up her award. (Photo: Alex Ellefson / Sheepshead Bites)

Two elementary schooler’s at P.S. 277 in Gerritsen Beach were honored Monday for their essays about the inspiring women in their lives.

Angelina Vilar, 9, and Layla Avery, 10, were handed certificates while their classmates applauded in the auditorium. The students had written heart-warming essays about a mother or grandmother they adored.

The awards were handed out by representatives for the Sheepshead Bay Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, which started the essay contest at local schools around Mother’s Day as a way of encouraging youngsters to visit the elderly patients.

“You know what makes our patients really, really happy?” Nini Rubin, who heads up communications at the nursing center, asked the students. “You guys are the ones who bring the happiness and the joy. You make a big difference for these people.”

Rubin explained scores of students submitted essays for the competition.

“We got a tremendous response,” she said. “It was very inspiring to read all of these essays and to see how these kids responded.”

Vilar’s essay explained how she was inspired by her grandmother’s stories about living in Soviet-occupied Azerbaijan while ethnic conflicts consumed the country. Her grandmother eventually fled to the United States and worked as a seamstress.

“My grandmother is a very special person to me because she teaches me how to become an independent, loving, brave, adventurous, successful and powerful person,” Vilar wrote in her essay, which she read for her classmates at the ceremony.

P.S. 277 5th grader Layla Avery, center, accepting her award. (Photo: Alex Ellefson / Sheepshead Bites)

P.S. 277 5th grader Layla Avery, center, accepting her award. (Photo: Alex Ellefson / Sheepshead Bites)


Avery highlighted her mother’s 13-year military service, as well as the cherished memories they shared baking gingerbread houses and talking about Avery’s first crush.

“I feel like Wonder Woman is standing in front of me,” Avery wrote in her essay. “She is so important to lots of people, not just me.”

Both winners were given a package for four tickets to the Regal Cinemas in Sheepshead Bay and money for concessions.

P.S. 277 Parent Coordinator Karen Salinas said the essay contest provided an opportunity for students to deeply examine their feelings about the special maternal figures in their families.

“Moms and grandmas are special people in children’s lives. And writing about that allows them to appreciate a person who’s with them all the time. This is in writing — it has to be detailed — and that makes it special,” she said.

The Sheepshead Bay Nursing and Rehabilitation center will present awards to two more students next week at P.S. 195 in Manhattan Beach, Rubin said.

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