A Huntington High School student took the top prize in a local essay contest inviting students to share their feelings on Japanese culture.

Sophomore Madison Jaye LoFaso last month won the high school division of the eighth annual essay contest sponsored by the Japan Center at Stony Brook University and Canon USA. The contest was designed to promote awareness and understanding of Japan.

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LoFaso's essay, "No Stroll in the Park," described a Saturday morning spent with her parents at the John P. Humes Japanese Stroll Center in Mill Neck.

"On the drive home it hits me; a feeling of regret for my behavior toward my parents at the start of the day," LoFaso wrote. "What if they relented and let me stay home? I would never have learned that aspects of Japanese culture could have such an emotional effect on me. I only hope someday I can travel to Japan and visit some authentic Japanese gardens."

LoFaso received $3,000 and a Canon camera. Ravi Jain of Syosset High School was second, and Emily Linko of Hauppauge High School was third. They won $1,500 and $750 prizes, respectively, as well as Canon cameras.

This year, 199 entries were received from 32 high schools.