To preserve the legacy and memory of Sara Long Harte, a teacher who lost her battle with breast cancer in Aug. 2010 at 33 years old, St. James Elementary held a ceremony Monday to introduce a memorial garden in her honor.
St. James Elementary teachers and students, as well as family and friends of Harte, took to the front lawn of the school for the afternoon ceremony, which included a ribbon cutting for the garden and the fifth grade chorus singing a rendition of “We Are One” by Allen Pote.
“Sara could do and did do just about anything anyone asked of her, she was always very willing to do, to share, to help,” said Mary Grace Lynch, principal of St. James Elementary. “She was a skinny little thing but she was strong in body, mind and soul … throughout her illness she was the rock for us, which was incredible. She always had a smile on her face, had a positive attitude and she always said everything was going to be OK.”
Christine Long, mother of the late teacher, said the ceremony the staff at the school put together was beautiful and that everyone at St. James Elementary was like a second family to her daughter.
“All her colleagues are just the most amazing people I’ve ever met, they don’t stop for a minute. We’ve had so many benefits and fund raisers in Sara’s namesake … they just have been unbelievable with the support,” she said.
Throughout Harte’s two-year battle with breast cancer, the support of her colleagues continued outside the school.
“When she was sick they cooked for her and brought food to the house, they’re amazing,” said Patti Guidi, Harte’s aunt.
“We were a very close-knit staff before and like most close people a tragedy can bring you even closer so Sara had all of our undying support, that’s why we have the St. James Angels shirts that are a couple years old now,” Lynch added.
Harte’s legacy, aside from the memorial garden, has been cemented in other ways, such as the Sara Long Harte Memorial Scholarship. The scholarship, given to a former St. James Elementary student who is going to college to become an educator, was awarded this year to East senior Katherine Skopkowski.
Her legacy will also be carried out through her family by volunteering for the kids in oncology at Stony Brook University Medical Center and The Sunrise Fund, a fund established to raise childhood cancer awareness and aide projects for children treated for cancer at the hospital.
Long said her daughter frequently volunteered and donated time to the kids in oncology, and plans to “continue what she started.”