Reflections of a Hauppauge High School senior on the Town of Smithtown's heritage took the top spot in the Smithtown Historical Society's essay contest.
Nicole Zito, 17, was awarded first place among about 40 entries in the society's Mildred E. Smith Historical Scholarship Contest, which challenged teens to answer the question: "How has Smithtown's rich heritage and history helped to shape your identity as a Smithtowner?"
Her four-page essay described how her great-grandparents fell in love with the town and its recreational opportunities and relocated there in the 1950s, and how that love trickled down to other relatives and to her.
"Now as a teenager, I reflect and realize how much living in a historic town such as Smithtown has contributed to my current identity as a Smithtowner," Zito wrote. "My family's history as well as Smithtown's rich heritage has allowed me to feel extreme pride living in the same town where my relatives settled three generations ago."
Zito, who received a $1,000 scholarship at the society's recent 2015 Heritage Ball, submitted the essay as part of an optional assignment last school year for Ellen Robbins' AP U.S. history class.
She is a member of her school's National Honor Society, History Club and Interact Club.