Winners of the Helen Stein Shack Picture Book Award honored

Winners of the Helen Stein Shack Picture Book Award honored

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Councilwoman Valerie Cartright poses with, from left, Michele Pacala, Samantha White, Katie Zhao and Nicole Freeley. Photo by Heidi Sutton

This past Sunday the community room at the Emma S. Clark Memorial Library was filled to the brim as the library, along with the family of the late Helen Stein Shack, local elected officials, and representatives from the Three Village Central School District, presented four local teens with the second annual Helen Stein Shack Picture Book Award.

The contest was open to teens in grades 7 to 12 who live in the Three Village school district.

Two $500 scholarships were awarded: one to Katie Zhao for her children’s book, “Good Night, Judy,” about a little girl who is afraid of the dark and the noises at night. The second was awarded to  Michelle Pacala for her children’s book titled “Sal the Sock,” a story told in a sing-song, rhyming tone about a sock who loses his friends in the laundry. Nicole Freeley, author of “Rainbow,” and Samantha White, author of “Honu,” received Honorable Mentions. The four books will be added to the library’s Local Focus Collection.

The grand-prize winners then read their stories to young patrons in the Children’s Department.

“What I really like seeing is the way we’re working with the schools on this,” said Library Director Ted Gutmann, who hosted the event. “We’re all part of this same community, and it’s great in this day and age to see organizations like ours working together and promoting something which is certainly very worthwhile.”

Samantha Kelly and Niva Taylor, granddaughters of the late Helen Stein Shack, shared fond memories of their grandmother and how much she loved the Emma Clark Library. “Our grandma absolutely loved books and loved this library. This was her favorite place to take us in the entire world,” said Kelly in explaining why the family started this competition here.

Paul Hennings, staff member from Senator John Flanagan’s (R-East Northport) office, brought certificates for all of the winners on behalf of the senator. Three Village school district BOE President William Connors, Superintendent Cheryl Pedisich, Assistant Superintendent Kevin Scanlon, Three Village Art Department Chairperson Jennifer Trettner, R.C. Murphy Junior High School English Department Chairperson Cathy Duffy, R.C. Murphy Junior High School Librarian Betsy Knox and Emma Clark board of trustees member Debra Blair were all in attendance to show their support.

Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) presented the winners with certificates from the Town of Brookhaven. “I think this is an amazing way to continue the legacy of Helen Stein Shack. I think that allowing kids to express themselves in an artistic manner — a positive artistic manner — is important,” said Councilwoman Cartright.

“You are the future leaders … keep expressing yourself. In a world today where there are so many negative things going on . . . you need to have outlets —  positive outlets — and these [books] are positive outlets, not only for you, but it puts a smile on the faces of those who actually view it,” she added, saying “I thank the community and of course the parents for encouraging our young ones to continue to do great and positive things in our community.”