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KDES Students Win Optimist International College Scholarships

Image: Eighth grader Destiny Vincent won first place in the Older Group category in the Optimist DC and Virginia Statewide contest held on February 22. (All photos: Maureen Cingel)

Eighth grader Destiny Vincent won first place in the Older Group category in the Optimist DC and Virginia Statewide contest held on February 22. (All photos: Maureen Cingel)

In February, Kendall Demonstration Elementary School (KDES) students presented essays on "How My Passions Impact the World" at this year's Optimist International Communication Contest for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

At the D.C./Virginia Statewide competition held on February 22, eighth grader Destiny Vincent won first place in the older age category while third grader Catalene Sacchetti-Manganelli took top honors in the younger age category. As first place winners, they each received a $2,500 college scholarship.

Optimist First Place Winners

Vincent's desire is to become a teacher. "Education is a powerful and essential tool to get young minds to be anything they want to be in life, to help the next generation to impact the world in the most positive and effective way that no one can fail," she said in front of the contest audience. "As teachers, we are the second parents for these children to continue to remind and nurture their minds to be future leaders, such as U.S. presidents, congressmen and congresswomen, and doctors."

In the younger age contests group, Sacchetti-Manganelli exclaimed at the beginning of her essay presentation, "Dance is my passion! I never had any formal training, I just dance for fun. I dance every day. When I brush my teeth, I dance, When I dress up, I dance, When I put on my shoes, I dance. I dance every time, everywhere." How would she share her love for dance? She said, "My passion is to make people all over the world know that anyone can dance. No matter if you are deaf or hearing, or if you are a boy or a girl, no matter what you believe in, or what the color of your skin is, or how old you are, no one can stop you from dancing."

Other competing KDES students also received recognition. In the older group, Alyssa Biega won second place, and Michael Mensah and Rajeyah At-Agri tied for third place. In the younger group, Noah Richards won second place, and Briana Sumes and Samuel Bachoo tied for third place.

Optimist contestants

"Our students did an excellent job presenting on the theme of 'How My Passion Impacts the World,'" said KDES teacher and contest coordinator Elizabeth Hall. "When the students were in the meeting room getting ready to present, it was fascinating to watch them as they discussed how to be calm and how to make sure their signs were clear and big!"

The Communication Contest for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing is open to students from elementary through high school age in the United States and Canada. This contest offers an opportunity for children who are deaf or hard of hearing to present their thoughts in the community, gaining skills that can only come from signing or speaking to a large audience.