Three Suffolk County elementary students have taken the top spots in a local coloring contest that asked them to submit illustrations promoting connectedness and inclusion among children.
Hailey Cerone, a first-grader at South Street Elementary School in Manorville; Avery Marks, a fifth-grader at Bayview Elementary School in West Islip; and Dakota Ruber, a fourth-grader at Ruth C. Kinney Elementary School in Islip Terrace, were named winners last month of the Suffolk County Sheriff's Office's "Start With Hello" Coloring Contest.
The contest was held in conjunction with the Sandy Hook Promise Foundation's Start With Hello Week, which strives to remind students to be more aware of their classmates' feelings and be kind to those who appear lonely. The week was celebrated in thousands of schools nationwide from Sept. 23-27.
"The three winners of the 'Start with Hello' Coloring Contest made an impression on me because they showed in words and art the importance of being aware of others' feelings and being inclusive," Suffolk County Sheriff Errol D. Toulon Jr. said.
For winning, the students each received prizes that included Sheriff's Office backpacks filled with school supplies, a lunch box and sheriff's swag.
The contest received about 2,000 inclusion-themed illustrations from children countywide in grades K-6.