Five Freeport School District students took home prizes for their artwork this past summer in the prestigious Cornell Cooperative Extension of Nassau County Student Art Competition, and their works were displayed at the extension’s Oct. 2 gardening show and included in its 2022 calendar.
One-fifth of the honorees in the competition were from Freeport. “The district congratulates these talented young artists on their award-winning work,” a district release from Superintendent Kishore Kuncham’s office read.
More than 100 entries from students in all grades across Nassau were submitted from mid-May through the end of June, with 24 honorees selected in July, including 12 winners and 12 honorable mentions. Gold, Silver and Bronze prizes were awarded. Among the Freeport honorees were:
Their art teachers were Lauren Levine and Jocelyn Rodriguez.
Three professional Long Island artists judged the competition: Jim Minet, who teaches at the Nassau County Museum of Art and the Mills Pond House historical site and gallery in Smithtown; Michelle Palatnik, a specialist in portraiture whose work can be viewed at the Salmagundi Club and the Main Street Gallery in Huntington; and Barbara Silbert, who teaches at the Nassau County Museum of Art, the Art Guild of Port Washington, Great Neck Community Education Center, and many other places on Long Island.
The students’ pieces were displayed in the Art of the Garden exhibit at the cooperative extension’s East Meadow Farms at the annual Family Fun Day Oct. 2. The Gold Level winners had their pictures mounted full-size on easels along the pathways running throughout the farm. The honorable mention pieces (Silver and Bronze levels) appeared in a collage on the wall of the main building at East Meadow Farms.
The students’ artwork was also featured in the extension’s first Nassau Gardening Calendar and Guide, published for 2022. The calendars were on sale at the Family Fun Day to raise money for East Meadow Farms. Gold Level student art pieces were set in the calendar as the page photo for each month.
The extension’s Nassau County master gardener, Dave Rolnick, said, “This is our first attempt at [the calendar], and we enlisted three of our most knowledgeable master gardeners to supply the information. Each day in all 12 months has a tip or a task for the gardener. The information is for avid gardeners or beginning gardeners, and all of the artwork is done by local school kids.”
The Fun Day attracted dozens of families, who wandered throughout the farm examining the flourishing flowers, trees and crop plants. One little girl was invited to dig up a sweet potato -- and unearthed the largest sweet potato that the master gardeners had ever seen, nearly globe-shaped and about 7 inches in diameter.
The event also had local food for purchase, live guitar music with singers, gardening activities, and student artwork in different parts of the garden, with master gardeners from the cooperative extension informing visitors about the relationship between the artwork and the nearby plant life. A pair of mounted Nassau County police officers chatted with families, while children patted the patient horses on the neck.
Barbara Levine, who taught art history for 25 years in Freeport elementary schools, volunteered for the day, seated on a bale of hay beside a table stacked with colorful calendars. Retired now, Levine fondly remembered her time in the Freeport School District. “Most of the time I was at Bayview [Avenue School],” she said, “and I loved it. If they hadn’t paid me to teach there, I’d have paid them. I’m not kidding.”
Anyone interested in purchasing a calendar should contact the CCE-Nassau Main Office, Eisenhower Park, Special Activities Center, Parking Field 8, P.O. Box 148, East Meadow, N.Y. 11554. You may also call (516) 832