A select few Long Island kids got their 15 minutes of fame in 2018.
From appearing on "Genius Junior" to performing in "Jesus Christ Superstar," advocating for change and meeting celebrities, star athletes and more, here are the many local children who found fame this year.
Aziya Dream Shingler
Aaron Shingler and Tamari Gardner of Hempstead with their newborn baby girl, Aziya Dream Shingler, who was born at 12:19 a.m. at Long Island Jewish Medical Center on Monday, Jan. 1, 2018. She came into the world weighing 5 pounds, 10 ounces. This is the couple's fourth child. -- Deon J. Hampton and Joie Tyrrell
Noah Snow, 6, of Dix Hills, is a budding artist who imitates American painter Bob Ross, who hosted a PBS TV show called "The Joy of Painting." Snow has his own Etsy store offering more than 50 works for sale. He takes lessons in the Bob Ross method at ARt in the Word in Huntington, and the first-grader paints every day at home. -- Beth Whitehouse
In 2015, Shiloé Khokhar of West Islip took a cruise to Bermuda with her family and tossed a bottle overboard with a message inside – now it’s been found by a fisherman on a beach in Morocco. Her father received an email from Ayoub Elbaz on May 21 that the bottle was discovered on Plage Blanche -- or "white beach" -- near the city of Guelmim in northern Africa by a fisherman. Elbaz, a 22-year-old college student sent a photo of his father, who doesn't speak English, Shiloé’s letter, and the families have been messaging daily and hope to somehow meet in person. -- Beth Whitehouse
Sigua Pintado and Jonathan Gomez
Alexander Sigua Pintado, aka Nick, 18, of Springs, and Jonathan Gomez, 17, of East Hampton, were the valedictorian and salutatorian in the class of 2018 at East Hampton High School, which has about 215 students. Nick attends Harvard majoring in Government, while Jonathan attends Cornell studing Astronomy and Physics. Both are eager to continue setting an example for other young Latinos. -- Beth Whitehouse
Sky Katz, 14, of Melville, stars as Tess in Disney Channel's "Raven's Home" and was a contestant on Season 11 of "America's Got Talent," where she showed off her rapping skills. In June, Katz and Cassidy McCarthy, 5, of West Babylon, were the celebrity and camper ambassadors for 2018 SunriseWALKS. The initative raises funds for Sunrise Day Camps, which give children with cancer and their siblings a full summer of day camp free of charge. -- Beth Whitehouse
Jaellyn Portillo-Bueso, Julia Richards, Nyah Grigg and Mark Ingram
Lin-Manuel Miranda, actor, singer and dancer. who stars in "Mary Poppins Returns," met with Kidsday reporters Jaellyn Portillo-Bueso, Julia Richards, Nyah Grigg and Mark Ingram, from Huntington Station, at the Essex House Hotel in Manhattan. The reporters spoke to Miranda about his role as Jack the lamplighter in the movie.
Teen guitarist Brandon "Taz" Niederauer, a student at Half Hollow Hills High School in Dix Hills, appeared in "Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert" on NBC in April. Niederauer played the solo guitar riff that opened the more than two-hour rock opera. The musical lured a reported 9 million viewers. He also starred for more than two years in "School of Rock," the Broadway show co-written by Andrew Lloyed Webber. -- Beth Whitehouse
Sebasitan Lennox (in striped shirt), a teen at Great Neck South Middle School, won $15,000 after his team was runner-up on NBC-TV's "Genius Junior" in May. He also won a trip to either Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida, or Washington D.C. The series was hosted by Neil Patrick Harris. Lennox said the hardest part of being on the show wasn't the actual tests; it was racing against the clock. -- Beth Whitehouse
Marina Duszak of Ronkonkoma received a $20,000 Foot Locker Foundation college scholarship as one of 20 student athletes chosen from a pool of more than 13,000 applicants nationwide. She was diagnosed with leukemia after beginning high school and raised $40,000 over the course of two years for the Make-A-Wish Foundation and local cancer centers. Duszak became captain of her varsity cross country team, and was also a state-qualifier. -- Arlene Gross
Zachary Lampert, Gavin Boccard, Ava DiGangi and Casey Pendola
Singer JoJo Siwa met with Kidsday reporters Zachary Lampert, Gavin Boccard, Ava DiGangi and Casey Pendola at the Sugar Factory in Manhattan. The students learned that Siwa loves recording videos, vlogs, singing and dancing. Her favorite part about recording is having fun with friends and getting to laugh and hang out.
Jacqueline Romero, Dunia Lizama, Justin Ruiz Castro and Benjamin Connaught
Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor met with Kidsday reporters Jacqueline Romero, Dunia Lizama, Justin Ruiz Castro and Benjamin Connaught at the Penguin Books offices in Manhattan. They spoke about Sotomayor's new book, "Turning Pages: My Life Story," what inspired her to be a lawyer and more.
Angelica Dee Cunningham
Angelica Dee Cunningham, who attends Huntington's Washington Primary School, wrote a letter to the town suggesting it change its name to Hauntington for Halloween. She thought of it because she has a Monster High doll named Ari Hauntington. Cunningham's parents helped her pen a handwritten plea, which she mailed to Town Supervisor Chad Lupinacci. Part of the letter stated: "I think this October, Huntington should officially be called 'Hauntington.' This would be fun to say, for me, my friends and all the citizens of Huntington." She signed it, "Sincerely, Angelica." At the town board meeting, the board approved the change, 5-0. -- Beth Whitehouse
Matty Evers, from Coram, landed a role on the July 15 episode of "Sharp Objects" after acing his first audition. In the show, he plays a neighborhood bad boy, and to get the right tough-guy attitude, Matty worked with his mother to channel his “inner Norman Reedus,” a nod to his favorite actor. Though Matty had no fear of performing for the camera, he was nervous about having his long blond hair shorn in favor of a buzz cut for his character. -- Daniel Bubbeo
Students from several Long Island high schools traveled to Manhattan's Carnegie Hall in October to join thousands of their peers at a Be Strong anti-bullying gathering, and more than 200,000 other students nationwide watched the event simulcast online. Valley Stream North High School student Kashmiraa Pandit was one of 46 students from her school who attended. Pandit was also chosen as a Be Strong ambassador, which means she'll continue to lead the development program at her school. -- Beth Whitehouse
Nilaysia Coleman, Ella Parkinson, Emily Maldonado and Kimberly Dragotto
Kidsday reporters met Nilaysia Coleman, Ella Parkinson, Emily Maldonado and Kimberly Dragotto met actor Lonnie Chavis, who stars as young Randall from the television show "This Is Us." Chavis also appeared in other shows like "White Famous," "The Thundermans," "Bella and the Bulldogs" and "Supergirl." The reporters learned that Chavis loves to dance, is home-schooled and has three brothers.
The Connor Family
James, Sarah and William Connor, along with their parents Gene and Amy, shaved their heads in March for the seventh time to raise money for the St. Baldricks Foundation. This year, the Northport family was crowned "Knights of the Bald Table" to mark their dedication to the charity that supports childhood cancer research. The family started the tradition after four of Gene's family members -- his mother and three of his sisters -- were diagnosed with different cancers in a two-year period. -- Beth Whitehouse
Norah Petrozak, a tween from Merrick, was a contestant on NBC's “Genius Junior” in April. Neil Patrick Harris hosts the one-hour competition series in which 12 teams of three children ages 8 to 12 compete in a series of increasingly complex quizzes with the goal of being crowned Genius Junior. Petrozak's favorite part was the spelling. Not only did she have to spell words quickly on the episode, but she also had to spell them backwards. -- Beth Whitehouse
Chase Vacnin, of Merrick, co-starred with Naomi Watts and Bobby Cannavale in the movie “Once Upon a Time in Staten Island,” which is slated to come out in 2019. He began acting 12 years ago and has appeared on “The Wendy Williams Show” and played the bully Butch in the 2014 video “The Little Rascals Save the Day.” -- Daniel Bubbeo
Port Washington teen Charlotte Kerpen wanted to help victims of the February mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. She decided to organize a tribute concert, "Port for Parkland," in March at Landmark on Main Street theater in Port Washington. The show featured 17 acts to honor the 17 students killed. The tickets were $17, and the proceeds were split between the Broward Education Foundation to help the victims and their families and Sandy Hook Promise, a nonprofit dedicated to preventing gun-related deaths. The event raised more than $30,000. -- Beth Whitehouse
Melville teen Jordan Belous continued her annual Heart of Gold campaign in September, which raises money for pediatric cancer research. Through the third annual Heart of Gold effort, schools requested paper hearts lined with gold from Belous' Whip Pediatric Cancer foundation. Each student decorated and wrote their name on a heart and gave a suggested donation of $2 to the foundation that was passed on to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in Manhatten for pediatric cancer research. Here, Belous is pictured with Amber Willard of Arizona, who is being treated at Sloan Kettering for neuroblastoma. -- Beth Whitehouse
Zachary Podair, of Smithtown, plays Les in the "Newsies" at the John W. Engeman Theater in Northport. He started performing at 6 and has had roles in many Long Island productions, including Donkey in "Shrek." He was in a commercial for a local camp and appeared in re-enactment scenes for an ad about Irish immigrants that was shot in Northport. An accomplished dancer, Podair said his favorite "Newsies" moments are the number "Seize the Day" and his tap solo near the end of the show. -- Daniel Bubbeo
Olivia Wilcox, Natalie C. Puello, Erika Mattschull, Kerry Monaghan, Olivia Zhang
A crew of Long Island teenage girls completed an all-girl, nine-day East Coast sailing trip in Mount Sinai in August, after braving seasickness, winds that pushed them backward and navigating in overnight shifts. The trip was run by the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps. Roger Noakes, of South Setauket, who captained the boat, runs Sailing Nada Adventures, a nonprofit leadership program that works with the Sea Cadets to use immersion in an ocean voyage as a leadership classroom. The teens sailed from Montauk through Rhode Island Sound, Block Island Sound, Buzzards Bay and to Cape Cod in one shot. The teens stopped on land at the U.S. Coast Guard Station in Provincetown, Massachusetts, as well as in Woods Hole, Massachusetts and Martha's Vineyard. They didn't make it to their original destination in Maine due to the weather and winds. -- Beth Whitehouse
Sebastian Morales, Nicholas Beeker, Walter Krieg and Addison Corwith
Kidsday reporters Sebastian Morales, Nicholas Beeker, Walter Krieg and Addison Corwith, from Southampton, met Yankee shortstop Didi Gregorius in the dugout at Yankee Stadium. The reporters learned that Gregorius eats a lot before each game so he doesn't get hungry, that his second favorite sport is soccer and he can speak four languages: English, Spanish, Dutch and Papiamentu, which is a language spoken in Curaçao.
Every day in March, Melville teen Matthew Levine posted thoughts and photos on Facebook to raise awarness about the rare kidney disease he battles. NephCure Kidney International is a charity that raises money to research treatments and seek an end to FSGS (focal segmental glomerulosclerosis) and Nephrotic Syndrome. Levine was diagnosed with FSGS at the age of 2. He takes 15 pills a day; his kidneys are likely to fail and he will need a transplant. There is no known cause or cure. -- Beth Whitehouse
Most teens are more into hip-hop than bebop, but not Maddy Seitles, of East Moriches, who said she’s been singing since she learned to talk. At home, her parents played songs by Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday, and she fell in love with their style. At 14, Seitles performed during halftime at a Knicks game at Madison Square Garden, and at other venues in Manhattan (The Bitter End, the Apollo Theater) and on Long Island (89 North in Patchogue, The Jazz Loft in Stony Brook). In July, she performed in the "Sunday Jazz" show at Feinstein’s/54 Below. -- Daniel Bubbeo
Fifth graders at Abbey Lane Elementary School
Twenty students in Rich Schwartz's class at Abbey Lane Elementary School in Levittown exercised their communication skills by handwriting letters to specific people who have been affected by breast cancer. Then in November, the class welcomed about 20 of the recipients to their classroom to share pink bagels. While "The Schwartzville Project" started out with letters to about 10 friends and family members who submitted information about themselves, it has mushroomed to reach close to 100 people, according to Schwartz. Schools in Hawaii and Washington state have also inquired about adopting it. Pictured: Carlos Contreras, Timothy Stanley, Kelsey Defreitas and Mia Bardolf, some of the classmates in Schwartz's class. -- Beth Whitehouse
Jack Hatcher of Commack has made his professional stage debut in the Public Theater production “The Low Road,” a comedy set in 18th century New England. Though he started performing when he was 4, he became serious about acting when he was 9 and began taking acting classes at Gateway Playhouse in Bellport. In “The Low Road," he played the pivotal role of the lead character as a child. -- Daniel Bubbeo
Michael Mullooly, Gabriella Giudici, Kathleen Cooney and Nicholas Gallo
"Wonder" author R.J. Palacio met with Kidsday reporters Michael Mullooly, Gabriella Giudici, Kathleen Cooney and Nicholas Gallo, of Massapequa and Massapequa Park, at the Cooper Union Hall in Manhattan. The reporters learned that Palacio, her husband and their two sons Caleb and Joseph were briefly in the movie "Wonder."