SHS Student Allyce Yang Earns Grand Prize Award in Essay Program

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Valley Stream South High School senior Allyce Yang was named the Grand Prize Winner in Optimum Community’s Hispanic Heritage Month Essay Contest program. She was the only student to achieve this level of recognition out of approximately 635 high school applicants, and was presented with a $2,500 scholarship on Dec. 14.

Allyce’s winning essay, “Frida Kahlo and I Speak the Language of Dreams,” focused on Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, who is known for self-portraits that reflected aspects of her own life. Allyce described Kahlo’s background and work before an audience that included New York State Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages, Optimum Public Affairs Manager Allison Aylward, Valley Stream Central High School District Board of Education President Dr. Frank Chiachiere, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bill Heidenreich, along with teachers and peers. Her mother, Xiaoli Yang, was also in attendance.

Assemblywoman Solages commended Allyce for her work and expressed her shared admiration for Kahlo. “She never followed the trend – she was a leader,” she said of the artist. “There are so many young people who need to be inspired by what you’re doing.”

In September, Allyce was recognized as a National Merit Semifinalist as well as an All-State musician. She plays the viola and has achieved numerous musical honors. She is also a past recipient of the National Council of Teachers of English Writing Award. Allyce plans to possibly pursue environmental science studies in college.  

The essay program strives to encourage high school and middle school students to explore the many accomplishments made by Latinos, past and present. Currently in its seventh year, the contest receives entries that focus on individuals ranging from athletes, governmental leaders, artists and many others who have made significant impacts on the world.