Joseph Manaker was a wonderful young man with the biggest heart anyone could possibly imagine. His larger than life personality filled Huntington High School. Teachers and classmates liked him and he always managed to bring a smile to someone’s face.
When Mr. Manaker passed away in December 2017 it was a very emotional day for everyone around the high school. The 16 year old left behind many friends and fans. He will always be remembered for brightening up Huntington’s classrooms and hallways.
Huntington's Joseph Manaker was beloved by many.
The Joseph A. Manaker Memorial Award was presented last year for the first time to Class of 2018 member Christina Nigro, who has gone on to study international relations and business at the University of Redlands in California. This year’s $1,600 award went to Daniel Thompson, who is headed for Marist College in Poughkeepsie.
The formal presentation of the award to Mr. Thompson was made by Mr. Manaker’s parents, Glen and Anne. The pair stood on the high school’s auditorium stage at Huntington’s senior academic awards ceremony and shared with a crowd of 325 a little bit about their son and about Mr. Thompson, one of the top members of the recent graduating class.
“Nicknamed ‘The Mayor,’ Joey had a gift and could connect with all,” Mrs. Manaker said. “Joey was known for his big welcoming smile, high five, fist bump or handshake and big ‘Hello, I’m Joey.’ His smiles had the ability to turn any bad day good. There were no games, no false pretenses with Joey. What you saw is what you got. He was genuine, real and quite a character. Able to work a room better than any professional politician, Joey strutted into a room like he owned it and would usually be found in the middle of the action.”
The Manaker’s have created a non-profit organization in their son’s memory named Joey’s Way. “Our mantra is ‘Living Life Joey’s Way’ and our mission is ‘to spread the power of a smile, handshake and hello.’ All trademarks of Joey. The Joseph A. Manaker Memorial Award is only one of several elements around a theme of social inclusion that Joey’s Way will be focusing on. To be considered for the award, a student must have exhibited a positive attitude while overcoming adversity or challenge, made a significant impact on the Huntington school community through active involvement in co-curricular and/or non-academic activities and groups and demonstrate high personal standards and values.”
An Advanced Placement Scholar, Mr. Thompson cited “persistence and determination” as the keys to his success. He won awards in a variety of academic disciplines and captained the Blue Devil cross country team. He’s quite proud of lowering his 5K time below 17 minutes.
Mr. Thompson is a personable young man who makes people comfortable to be in his presence, just like Joey Manaker was famous for doing.
Joseph A. Manaker Memorial Award Recipients
2019 Daniel Thompson
2018 Christina Nigro