Huntington High School junior Sulma Campos has captured first prize in the bilingual category of the Victor Baptiste essay contest sponsored by the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese’s Long Island chapter.
Schools across Long Island were invited to submit up to six entries for the contest. Teachers from a variety of high schools served as contest judges. The names of contestants and their schools were not visible when the judges read the essays.
Huntington junior Sulma Campos won first place in the Victor Baptiste Essay Contest.
“I had Sulma in HLA (Home Language Arts) last year and in Advanced Placement Spanish this year,” teacher Mercedes Peña said. “She is sweet, intelligent and very analytical. She’s also a scholar-mentor and worked with one of my HLA students, who often spoke highly of her."
Mrs. Peña entered the top essays from her two AP Spanish classes in the contest. Grace Wildermuth, Jack Monahan, Raul Orozco, Melisa Torres and Joseph Tonjes garnered certificates for their exceptional written work.
Ms. Campos is on the high school’s honor roll for her fine classroom performance. “I came to the United States three years ago with no knowledge of the English language,” she said. “With a lot of work, I was in ENL (English as a new language) classes for only one year. I’m looking for ways to get to college. My family has a lot of expenses so hopefully I’ll get a scholarship. When Miss Peña told us about the contest I immediately started working on my essay."
The essay contest required participants to write about the contributions of Hispanic art and artists. “Since art can be interpreted in many ways, I decided to write about different artists who have contributed to the expansion of Latin music and how it helps makes for a better world in different ways,” Ms. Campos said.
Ms. Campos’ award winning essay was titled “Beyond Songs.” “First, I talked about Selena Quintanilla,” the teenager said. “She was one of the first women to master the music charts. She opened the door to many other women coming after her. Then I mentioned the well-known song ‘Despacito’ by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee. This song was heard across the whole globe. It has 6.2 billion views on YouTube. Everybody was listening to it; the language didn’t matter. I also mentioned Anthony Santos, known as Romeo Santos. He has taken bachata to another level. His songs have had a tremendous impact. I must emphasize that his song ‘Obsession’ was in first place on the charts for seven consecutive weeks."
The teenager went on to write about some of the charitable foundations created by Latin artists that are dedicated to helping the needy.
“The Ricky Martin Foundation by Ricky Martin helped rebuild houses for the people who suffered from Hurricanes María and Irene,” Ms. Campos said. “Another foundation is Dreamers by Juan Luis Londono, who is known as Maluma. He helps young people to learn skills such as dance. Lastly, I mentioned the Eva Longoria Foundation. She helps and motivates women to study and have a career.”
Ms. Campos’ work as a scholar-mentor involved guiding a new ENL student in his academic pursuits and helping him navigate through the high school and district in general. She also helped him in his ENL class.