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Vernon Student Pens Winning Essay

James H. Vernon School third-grader Kiara Altamirano is well-versed when it comes to animals and saving the planet. The Humane Society of New York has just named her a winner in the 2021 humane essay contest for her heartfelt and well-written piece that conveyed the following theme: “Pretend you are an animal and write about what humans should do to protect your species and to make our planet humane for all animals.” The contest was held to mark Earth Day and Be Kind to Animals Month.

Kiara wrote her essay from the point of view of a polar bear. She explained how her habitat is affected by pollution and the impact it has on a polar bear family. She also explained what humans can do to correct it.

The contest, sponsored by the Office of Laura Curran, Nassau  County Executive; the Humane Society of New York, North Shore Animal League of America and the Nassau County SPCA, consisted of participants in grades 3-5 throughout Nassau County. Hundreds of essays were submitted. Two winners per grade were selected.

County Executive Curran presented the winners with certificates during an outdoor awards ceremony at the Theodore Roosevelt Executive and Legislative Building. The other sponsors presented small gifts.

Kiara said she is a huge animal lover and likes to read books and write. Her teacher Ms. Kelly Hilt said that Kiara “worked on her essay independently and completed it all on her own.”  When Kiara found out from Principal Dr. Valerie Vacchio that she was a winner, Kiara said, “I was so happy. Dr. Vacchio took me to her office and we made a phone call to my mother to give her the good news.”

Kiara hopes that her essay will teach people to be more mindful about protecting animals. Her piece of advice: “Stop throwing garbage in the water,” she said.

 kiara and val

Essay winner Kiara Altamirano and James H. Vernon Principal Dr. Valerie Vacchio.