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Three Students Win State Human & Civil Rights Arts Contest

Art 5 MAY 14, 2019 – Three Winston-Salem/Forsyth County students are state winners of the Human and Civil Rights Multicultural Arts Contest sponsored by the N.C. Association of Educators.

They winning students are:

Joshua Silva-Mass a first-grade student at Rural Hall Elementary. He received first place for his artwork “Friends Make Me Happy” in the Grade K-2 Artwork category. His art teacher at Rural Hall is Henry Moss.

Yanci Maldonado a sophomore at East Forsyth High School. She received first place for her poem in the Grade 9-12 Poetry category.

Shantall Benites, a junior at East Forsyth High School. She received first place for her short story “The Country of Opportunities” in the Grade 9-12 Short Stories category.

At East Forsyth, both Maldonado and Benites are students of Alice M. Valdes, who teaches Spanish for Heritage Speakers and Honors Spanish.

“Shantall Benites is a junior at East Forsyth High School,” Valdes said. “She is from Peru but has lived in the US for two years. She decided to write a short story for the contest because she wanted to include a piece of her own experience but also share her love for other cultures. 

“In the classroom, Shantall is a leader. She is a great student and is very helpful to all of her peers. She makes everyone feel welcome in the classroom.”

“Yanci Maldonado is a sophomore at East Forsyth High School. Her family is from El Salvador. Yanci excels in writing, both in English and Spanish.  She is a talented poet and this is the reason she decided to enter the contest showcasing her skill.”

“Even if she is a quiet student, she has a big interest in life, culture and takes great pride in her education. She challenges herself academically and excels at everything she does. She has a bright future ahead of her.” 

“I am a big supporter of multiculturalism as my life is all about blending cultures. Being from another country (Italy) and being married to a Chilean, I value the importance of teaching my own children the importance of appreciation of different cultures. This is also why I became a Spanish teacher. The bonus of being a teacher, is being able to be around students like Shantall and Yanci and making a small difference in their lives.” 

On Thursday, May 9, each student was presented with a plaque by NCAE President Mark Jewell at the school’s system Education Building.

East 6 Here is Yanci Maldonado’s poem:

“Sometime Ago”

Five years ago today,

Someone said goodbye

In such a haze that now

They don’t even know how


They left a little country,

Not much bigger than Rhode Island

They felt so bad at first,

but it was all so good onwards

They were great along the way,

 As they learned to enjoy

The light of the day


And it was all okay, it was all alright


For another person, four years past

Who left nothing

Not a trace behind

Who now has everything

They could ever want


Because they lived lacking

Where they couldn't even want

A simple life, in a simple house

With plain commodities,

So fair to ask


But now it is okay, now it is alright


For everyone involved

In this brand new life


East 11 Shantall Benites wrote her story in Spanish. Here are both the Spanish and English versions:

“The Country of Opportunities”

My story begins when I moved to Manhattan, New York. My mom Isabel told me that we would have a better life once we move to the United States. I lived in China for so many years a long lime and when I went to school in New York it would be experience for me. I saw on television that in the United States they had a culture different from that of China throughout history you will realize the big difference.

The next day I got up at 6 in the morning and my mom had my clothes ready and took out of the closet some black pants, a red shirt and some white shoes, she told me that I had to get used to the changes that would happen and good I never liked wearing the school uniform in China and this was not a bad change, I was ready at 7:00. I went to the bus stop at 7:45, my mom and I were wailing for the bus that was going to take me to school. My first class class started at 8:00. At last the bus arrived and during the way to school in my head I repeated some words that I learned, the nerves always play against me and I could not remember anything. I got off the bus and looked at my watch and I realized it was 7:56. I could not contain my nerves and went to my first class. My teacher welcomed me and asked me to introduce myself in front of the class. Try to leave all the nerves aside and I said "Hi, my name is Felicia, I'm from China and I'm new here. "In my head ii sounded perfect but everyone started to laugh because of my accent. Then I went to my seat to lower my head and try to forget what I did but I could not contain myself and I started crying. The hours passed very quickly and when I realized it was already in my last period, none of my teachers paid attention to me but this teacher was the music teacher and he was calling everyone to the front to demonstrate a talent that we had, it was my turn to spend to the front and this time I was going to do it in Chinese. I trusted my instinct and went to the front to sing. It was the end of the fourth period I was ready to go to the house. Before leaving the teacher grabbed his cell phone and went to Google translator after that he showed me his cell phone and said he wanted me to be in the spring concert singing in front of the whole audience. He spent a week and there I was, in front of the whole audience singing my favorite song in Chinese. Nobody had an idea what I was saying but at the end of my presentation I received a lot of applause and I felt very proud of myself. I did it much better than in all my essays, the teacher chose me as the choir director of the  school.

This is just the beginning of all the good things that are going to happen, at the end of all this change was not so bad, I am determined to learn more English. I am very grateful to my mom for giving us an opportunity in a country as good as this one.


“Las Ciudad de las Oportunidades”  

Mi historia empieza cuando me mudé a Manhattan, New York. Mi mama Isabel me dijo que tendríamos una mejor vida cuando estábamos en China. Yo vivi alli mucho tiempo y cuando entre a la escuela de New York será una experiencia para mi. Vi por la televisión que en los Estados Unidos tenían una cultura diferente a la de China a lo largo de la historia te darás cuenta de la gran diferencia.

Al dia siguiente me levanté a las 6 de la mañana y mi mama tenia mi ropa lista y sacó del closet unos pantalones negros, una camisa roja y unos zapatos blancos, ella me dijo que tenía que acostumbrarme a los cambios que iba a pasar y bueno nunca me gusto usar el uniforme de escuela en china y este no era un cambio malo, estaba lista a las 7:00. Fui a la parada de bus a las 7:45, mi mama y yo estábamos esperando el bus que me iba a llevar al colegio. Mi primera clase clase empezaba a las 8:00. Al fin el bus arribo y durante el camino a la escuela en mi cabeza repetía algunas palabras que aprendí, los nervios siempre me juegan en contra y  no podía recordar nada. Me baje del bus y mire mi reloj y me di cuenta que eran las 7:56. No podía contener los nervios y me dirigí  a mi primera clase mi profesora  me dio la bienvenida y me pregunto que me presente en frente de la clase. Intente dejar todos los nervios de lado y dije “Hola, me llamo felicia,soy de china y soy nueva aqui. “ En mi cabeza sonaba perfecto pero todos se empezaron a reír por mi acento. Luego me dirigí a mi  asiento baje mi cabeza y intente olvidar lo que hice pero no pude contenerme y empecé a llorar. Las horas pasaron muy rápido y cuando me di cuenta ya estaba en mi ultimo periodo, ninguno de mis profesores me prestaron atención pero este profesor era el de música y estaba llamando a todos al frente para demostrar un talento que teníamos, era mi turno de pasar al frente y esta vez lo iba a hacer en chino. Confié en mi instinto y salí al frente a cantar. Era el final del cuarto periodo estab listo de ir a la casa. Antes de salir el profesor agarró su celular y entro a google translator después de eso me enseno su celular y decía que él quería que este en el concierto de primavera cantando al frente de todo el auditorio.Pasó una semana y allí estaba yo, enfrente de todo el auditorio cantando mi canción favorita en chino. Nadie tenía idea que estaba diciendo pero al final de mi presentación recibí muchos aplausos y me sentí muy orgullosa de mi misma. Lo hice mucho mejor que en todos mis ensayos, el profesor me eligió como directora del coro de la escuela.

Este solo es el comienzo de todas las cosas buenas que van a pasar, al final de todo este cambio no estuvo tan mal, estoy decidida de aprender más inglés. Estoy muy agradecida con mi mamá por darnos una oportunidad en un país tan bueno como este.