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Meet the student behind the Rockville Centre School District's 2019-20 calendar art

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With a new school year comes a new school calendar. Parents in the district receive the calendar booklet, which outlines a variety of important dates, when school begins.

The front of this calendar always has student artwork that creatively represents the Rockville Centre School District.

This year, Alanna Sike Vitelli, 12, drew the illustration that appears on the cover.

“I’m really proud of myself and how everyone is going to see my drawing,” said Alanna, who is entering seventh grade at South Side Middle School this year.

Her artwork is a black-and-white drawing of seven students. With their backs turned, each student is wearing a jersey with a number and school name on it, from Covert Elementary School on the far left to South Side High School, the tallest student, on the far right.

“I like to make different ideas,” Alanna explained of her art. “The people in elementary school are smaller, the middle school is a little taller and the high school is tallest. And then there are sports above, like soccer, lacrosse, tennis and volleyball.”

Alanna was born and raised in China. In November 2016, Rockville Centre resident Carol Vitelli adopted her, and Alanna began school as a fourth grader at Covert Elementary.

“She taught herself to draw in China, so she wanted to do this,” Carol said. “The music/art department said she was more than welcome to submit her work, and that anyone who wants to can.”

The department chose Alanna’s work from a batch of others, mostly by students in last year’s seventh-grade art class. “I didn’t really know it would be on the cover,” Alanna said. “I just did the best I could. It was okay if I didn’t get it, but I’m excited everyone got this drawing on the front of their calendars.”

Alanna is self-taught in drawing and has never taken an art class – however, she’s excited to take seventh grade art this year. “I like how creative art is,” she said, “and it helps you when you’re stressed or bored.”

Through drawing, Alanna coped and expressed herself during the challenging transition to a new country. “Drawing is her own natural talent,” Carol said. “The main thing she would do when she got here was sit and draw.”

Alanna did not know any English when she first arrived in the United States nearly three years ago. Therefore, Carol and her son, Gary Bonavita, 17, relied on Google Translate to aid communication with Alanna in the beginning. Now, she speaks fluent English and attends Chinese classes in Valley Stream every Saturday to keep up with her native language.

Alanna is both nervous and excited for the new school year, she admitted. “I might have some new people in my classes and have a lot more tests,” she said. “But I’m excited to make new friends.”