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Ivan Lu, Levittown When asked about his family's (Credit: Jennifer Berger, 2011)

Ivan Lu, Levittown

When asked about his family's holiday traditions, Ivan Lu, a third-grader from Northside Elementary School in Levittown, said: "My uncle taught me how to do the Lion Dance, a tradition in China. We also get red envelopes for Chinese New Year, which is right after Christmas."

Read more holiday traditions from LI kids

11 kids who impressed us in 2011

The best part of our job -- hands down -- is meeting so many great kids on Long Island. There are thousands! Throughout 2011, we've interviewed preschoolers to high schoolers. They've told us about trying to raise money for those less fortunate, attempts to stop bullying, how they try to make their peers laugh, and more. Take a gander at some of the kids we loved this year.

Compiled by Jennifer Berger and Beth Whitehouse

Angela Citrola, Northport As a budding comic, Angela
(Credit: Rebecca Cooney, 2011)

Angela Citrola, Northport

As a budding comic, Angela Citrola of Northport advises other kid comedians to write, write, write. "I have a very humorous and awkward life," which provides material for comedy shows, she said. She's covered first cars and removing hair from her legs. "I'm writing one right now about 'Dora the Explorer.' I don't know how old this kid is that her parents let her run into a forest by herself. With a fox on the loose." says Angela, who hopes to be an actress. Read the full story

Matthew DeCicco, Hewlett Matthew DeCicco of Hewlett sells
(Credit: Handout, 2011)

Matthew DeCicco, Hewlett

Matthew DeCicco of Hewlett sells painted seashells to raise money for his passion -- collecting bouncy balls that he would buy for a quarter each from vending machines at the supermarket. Matt collected shells on the beach near the family's cabana at Silver Point Beach Club in Atlantic Beach and sold them for 25 cents each. He made $14 the first day. His advice: "Act cute," DeCicco said.

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Daniel Diaz, Farmingdale Daniel Diaz of Farmingdale was
(Credit: Thomas A. Ferrara, 2011)

Daniel Diaz, Farmingdale

Daniel Diaz of Farmingdale was featured in the article "Local boys barber it like Justin Bieber." He loves the Bieber look of skinny jeans and plaid shirts. He also likes Bieber's music, with his favorite songs being "Baby," "Eenie Meenie" and "Somebody to Love." "I actually want to be a singer or musician myself," Daniel says. His mom jokingly calls Daniel: "The Latin Bieber."

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Mae Ann Ledva, St. James Dance recitals
(Credit: Thomas A. Ferrara, 2011)

Mae Ann Ledva, St. James

Dance recitals are a rite of passage for countless young dancers on Long Island. Mae Ann Ledva of St. James started lessons when she was younger than 4 and performed her last recital before leaving for college this past summer at Staller Center in Stony Brook. She also was in tears, black mascara staining her cheek. The 17-year-old high school senior had just completed the dress rehearsal for her ballet solo at the Spotlight Dance Academy's recital at the Staller Center in Stony Brook. "The studio's become my second home," Ledva said. "It's so sad to see it end."

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Christina Lee, Copiague When asked what she
(Credit: Jennifer Berger, 2011)

Christina Lee, Copiague

When asked what she is thankful for, Christina Lee, a first-grader at Gread Neck Road School in Copaigue, said, "I am thankful for my family."

Ivan Lu, Levittown When asked about his family's
(Credit: Jennifer Berger, 2011)

Ivan Lu, Levittown

When asked about his family's holiday traditions, Ivan Lu, a third-grader from Northside Elementary School in Levittown, said: "My uncle taught me how to do the Lion Dance, a tradition in China. We also get red envelopes for Chinese New Year, which is right after Christmas."

Read more holiday traditions from LI kids

Rachael Martines, Carle Place Rachael Martines was captain
(Credit: Handout, 2011)

Rachael Martines, Carle Place

Rachael Martines was captain of a team of classmates from Carle Place High School who participated in the American Cancer Society's annual Relay for Life. "I have two grandparents who passed away from cancer," Martines said. "Everyone in some way or another has been affected by the disease. It's something the whole town comes out for."

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Nylan Rodriguez, Amityville Nylan Rodriguez of Amityville has
(Credit: Handout, 2011)

Nylan Rodriguez, Amityville

Nylan Rodriguez of Amityville has a unique name that his parents made up. Jovonna Rodriguez and her husband, Robert, said they wanted all their boys to have a first name beginning with "N." Older brothers are Nico and Nyles; Jovonna said she and her husband made up the name Nylan because there wasn't another "N" name they liked. "It could be a name he could grow up with and not be ashamed, something he could be proud of," she said.

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Samantha Schindler, West Islip Samantha Schindler of West
(Credit: Jesse Newman, 2011)

Samantha Schindler, West Islip

Samantha Schindler of West Islip earned $5 an hour plus tips at Sonic, where she was a carhop who roller skated orders to cars during the lunchtime shift last summer. When asked to give advice about summer job hunting, she said: "Be bubbly and open and conversational on interviews," she suggested.

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Jenna Rose Swerdlow, Dix Hills Jenna Rose Swerdlow
(Credit: Handout, 2011)

Jenna Rose Swerdlow, Dix Hills

Jenna Rose Swerdlow of Dix Hills became a YouTube sensation when her music video, "My Jeans," catapulted toward 1 million views in March. The song she filmed in her pink-and-green bedroom and at the Tanger Outlet Center in Deer Park has mimicked the notoriety of Southern California teenager Rebecca Black, whose video, "Friday," went viral after bloggers and TV personalities called it "the worst." Swerdlow said, "Everyone's singing it. All the eighth-graders know me. One day in the hall this kid came up to me and said, 'Jenna Rose!' and I'm like, 'Who are you?' "

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Richie Vernillo, Smithtown Richie Vernillo of Smithtown created
(Credit: Handout, 2011)

Richie Vernillo, Smithtown

Richie Vernillo of Smithtown created a public service announcement denouncing bullying that was screened at the first Anti Violence Film Festival at the Patchogue Theater in April. "I've been bullied since sixth grade," he said. "I've always been the target. I've been left out, I've been made fun of, I've been cyberbullied. Either someone is throwing something at me, or they're bothering me."

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