Joseph Manaker was a wonderful young man with a heart of gold. His larger than life personality filled every nook and cranny of Huntington High School. Teachers and classmates loved him and he always managed to bring a smile to everyone’s face.
When Mr. Manaker passed away in December 2017 it was a very emotional day for the entire high school community. The 16 year old left behind many friends and fans. He will always be remembered for brightening up Huntington’s classrooms and hallways.
This year’s $1,600 Joseph A. Manaker Memorial Award was presented to Caitlin Murtagh, who is headed to Sacred Heart University to study marketing/sports marketing.
Huntington's Joseph Manaker was beloved by many.
The formal presentation of the award to Ms. Murtagh 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 scholarships awards ceremony and shared with a crowd of about 300 a little bit about their son and about Ms. Murtagh, one of the leading 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.”
Inducted into six separate academic honor societies, Ms. Murtagh said it’s been hard work and determination that has helped her succeed. Taking advantage of extra help and enjoying productive relationships with her teachers helped the teenager realize her goals.
The new Huntington alum participated on the Blue Devil robotics team, sang in the chamber choir, served in the student government and volunteered with the Key Club. Ms. Murtagh starred in the Virtual Enterprise business program and interned with teacher Paige Furman in a sports marketing class.
Named a Distinguished Senior last spring, Ms. Murtagh is a personable young woman who makes people comfortable to be in her presence, just like Joey Manaker was well-known for doing.