Joseph Manaker was a bright and happy young man who saw the best side of everyone. He had the biggest heart imaginable and his one of a kind personality filled Huntington High School. Teachers and classmates loved him. He always had a way of making the day seem a little bit brighter.
When Mr. Manaker passed away in December 2017 it was a sad time for everyone around the high school building. The 16 year old left behind many friends and fans. He will never be forgotten for brightening up Huntington’s classrooms and hallways. He was a Blue Devil through and through.
The Joseph A. Manaker Memorial Award was presented this year for the fourth time to Class of 2021 member Johanna Campos-Moreira, who plans to study at Fashion Institute of Technology’s Florence, Italy campus. The $1,600 award stipend symbolizes $100 for each of Mr. Manaker’s 16 years on this earth.
The formal presentation of the award to Ms. Campos-Moreira was made by Mr. Manaker’s parents, Glen and Anne. The pair assumed positions front and center on the high school’s auditorium stage during Huntington’s senior scholarship night ceremony and shared with the crowd touching and heart wrenching remarks about their son and about Ms. Campos-Moreira, who is one of the top members of the Class of 2021.
“Joey is forever a member of this Huntington High School graduating Class of 2021,” Mrs. Manaker said. “His classmates all had a very special place in his heart. Most probably remember Joey. He was a friendly little guy with a big personality and a bright, radiating smile. His smiles had the ability to turn any bad day good. There were no games, no false pretenses with Joey. What you saw was what you got. He was genuine, real and quite a character. He aptly earned the title of mayor at every school he attended and exhibited a sincere zest for life. Born with Down’s Syndrome and several congenital heart defects, Joey never let them define who he was or dictate what he did. Joey was pure magic. He could work a room better than any politician, strutting into a room like he owned it, leading with his trademark smile and hand wave.”
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,’” Mrs. Manaker said “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. This award acknowledges a Huntington High School students who demonstrates a similar spirit and can-do attitude. The receiving individual has exhibited a similar positive attitude while overcoming adversity and challenge and has made a significant impact on the Huntington school community through active involvement in co-curricular and non-academic activities or groups while demonstrating high personal standards and values, such as honesty, integrity, courage and a positive attitude.”
Recognized as a Distinguished Senior after compiling an academic average in excess of 90 during the first seven semesters of high school, Ms. Campos-Moreira was inducted into six different honor societies.
The teenager cites her mother and aunt as the keys to her success. “They both made a lot of sacrifices and continually guided” her in the right direction so she could realize her dreams, Ms. Campos-Moreira said. “Their advice, inspiration and empowerment have driven me to work hard for what I want in life.”
Ms. Campos-Moreira’s mom passed away during the teenager’s junior year of high school. Dealing with the tragedy showed her how strong she is and led to the forming with several “very special” relationships with teachers, who supported her and guided her to become a better person and they will always have a special place in her heart.
A four year Blue Devil soccer player and Long Island Arts Alliance Merit Award recipient, Ms. Campos-Moreira participated in United Amigos and the New World mentoring club.
Joseph A. Manaker Memorial Award Recipients
2021 Johanna Campos-Moreira
2020 Erlyn Flores Reyes
2019 Daniel Thompson
2018 Christina Nigro