Three Lynbrook South Middle School students swept first through third place in a monologue contest at the 20th annual Nassau Community College Honors Program Science Fair, Art and Theater Competition on March 24.
Participants were tasked with memorizing a two-minute monologue that was either an original piece or a speech from an influential individual. The theme focused on education and liberation.
The judges selected three Lynbrook students as winners in the middle school category. Seventh-grader Jaiden Moreno took first place, eighth-grader David Padilla placed second and seventh-grader Emilia “Mimi” Berkowitz finished third.
“It’s amazing,” said Roxanne Migliacci, the team’s coach and the English Department chairperson. “It was the first time we ever entered the competition. Our students said it was so much fun and so exciting. I was really proud of our kids. They were obviously prepared and enthusiastic.” Migliacci said that drama director and chorus teacher Annie Pasqua helped the students hone their writing.
Jaiden shared an original piece about how advertisers and elected officials are not always truthful. He cited an instance where Kellogg’s was sued for advertising that Frosted Mini-Wheats could increase children’s attentiveness. He likened the false advertising to the 2016 Presidential Election, in which fake news was spread frequently. Jaiden said it is up to people to educate themselves to distinguish fact from fiction.
“With education, we can free the world to make informed decisions,” Jaiden said in his monologue. “But this can only happen if we teach each other. And teach ourselves. Together, we can educate people. And together, we can set the world free.”
David chose to focus his monologue, an original piece, on his influential third-grade teacher, Steve Freifeld, who teaches at Marion Street. He recalled Freifeld’s lesson about the Greensboro Four, four African American freshman attending North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College, who sat at Woolworth’s “whites only” lunch counter in Greensboro, N.C. in 1960 and did not leave until they were served.
“As I get older, I realize that Mr. Friefeld was teaching us more than history,” David said. “He was helping us understand and think more critically about the social forces that shape our lives and think more confidently about our ability to react against those forces.”
Mimi’s piece was an excerpt from Malala Yousafzai, an activist who was shot on a bus by a Taliban gunman who tried to silence her. Mimi recited from Yousafzai’s speech to the United Nations Youth Assembly on July 12, 2013.
“Dear friends, on the 9th of October 2012, the Taliban shot me on the left side of my forehead,” Mimi said, quoting Yousafzai’s speech. “They shot my friends, too. They thought that the bullets would silence us. But they failed. And then, out of that silence, came thousands of voices.”
Mimi said she was excited all three Lynbrook students won. “It was just crazy to think that three people from Lynbrook were chosen,” she said. “It was kind of shocking at first. I was so excited and it was just a really great moment.”
Migliacci said the judges were awed by the students’ speeches, and that the trio had fun participating. “The judges complimented the students on their passion, poise and imagination,” she said. “The kids already asked if we can start talking about next year’s competition.”