6th-grader’s essay comparing 9/11 and COVID wins 1st place

Danielle Ramos of East Rockaway Elementary School.

By Grethel Bolandrina

“Sadly, COVID-19 and 9/11 have also provoked discrimination within people of different races. 9/11 turned a few people against Muslims and the Coronavirus against the Chinese. If there’s one good thing that came out of these disastrous events, it would be that the world and people came together for each other. Citizens all over the world conveyed sympathies and prayers for those who have lost their lives during 9/11 & COVID. Countries have united to hopefully put an end to this virus. More value and appreciation were put on healthcare workers and other professions that were tagged as frontliners. Now that the Coronavirus is still rampant all over the world, people are complying and adjusting to the measures that the government has implemented with the goal to reduce the number of people that are getting infected. These two events have and will be a part of history. They will be remembered as times of sorrow and misery and will remind all people that there are things beyond our control. Let me end this piece with this quote by Earl Campbell. ‘If it weren’t for the dark days, we wouldn’t know what it is to walk in the light.’ We got through 9/11, we can get through COVID.”

Twelve-year-old Danielle Ramos wrote this piece, and read it with muted emotion before a reception for this year’s Andrew Stern Memorial Essay Contest. Danielle’s essay won first place in the elementary school category.

The annual competition honors East Rockaway graduate Andrew Stern, who was killed during the terror attacks on September 11, 2001. It is run by members of the Stern family, who read through more than 700 student submissions. This year’s essay topic asked students to reflect on the ways in which 9/11 and the COVID-19 pandemic are similar, different, or both.

Ella with her family: Dad Teodolo, mom Geraldine, and baby brother Teddy James.
Members of the Andrew Stern family on the right and Danielle Ramos’s co-winners on the left: Nicholas Pannullo (high school category) and Sophia Pappas (middle school category).

A 6th grader at East Rockaway Elementary School, Danielle — or Ella as she is fondly called – is the elder daughter of Teodolo Ramos, Jr., a certified private duty companion, and Geraldine Ramos, a registered nurse. The family is from Quezon City.

Her hobbies are drawing and creating “mini stories/books.” She is talented in the arts, according to the proud mother. Her artwork had been chosen as an entry to her school’s art exhibit in the past.  She enjoys being the big sister to her baby brother, Teddy James, who is almost one year old.

“Ella did an excellent job addressing the essay contest topic,” said Geraldine. “We didn’t know that it was an essay contest, we thought it’s just a regular homework. So, when we received the call from the Principal that Ella won, we were very surprised and so was she! She still doesn’t realize she has a gift for writing, considering this is the second time she’s won an award for such.”

In 2017, Ella won district-wide among second-graders for her essay submitted in honor of Flag Day Celebration.

Estrella Ramos, Ella’s grandmother, happily congratulated her on winning first place and thanked Ella’s parents for their love and guidance. Dad Teodolo was equally ecstatic and proud.

Ella was awarded a certificate and a $100 check. The Stern family invited each student winner — which included Nicholas Pannullo (high school category), Sophia Pappas (middle school category) and Danielle — to share their winning essays with those in attendance.

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© The FilAm 2021

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