“Why my community is important to me!” was the theme for the annual Take a Duck to Class essay contest, sponsored by the Long Island Ducks and TD Bank.
Stepping up to the plate was Hannah Niggemeier, a Sayville sixth-grader, whose powerhouse words about Sayville brought it home for the contest judges. As one of only four winning essays from thousands of applicants island wide, Hannah won a school visit from both Ray Navarette—five-time All-Star player and member of the 2012 First Half Liberty Division Champion Long Island Ducks—and mascot QuackerJack.
During the sixth-grade assembly in the Sayville Middle School gym, Hannah was called upon by TD Bank VP of Marketing Eric S. Fishon and Sayville Store Manager Therese Mora to receive a Visa Gift Card. After, cued by shouts of “QuackerJack!” from the students, the LI Ducks mascot waddled into the gym, waved to the audience, and gave Hannah a high five.
With QuackerJack standing behind her, Hannah read her essay aloud to the attentive assembly of classmates, administrators, faculty and her own parents.
“I don’t need a sign to tell me that Sayville was voted The Friendliest Town in America.” Hannah began, referring to the recognition Sayville received (before she was born in 200l). “I live here and I know that it is, but it is the people who continue to make town so special.”
“There are so many great organizations that bring people and the community together. We have a great festival in the summer called ‘Summerfest.’” Hannah continued. “This festival is so great for people to enjoy some fun rides and walk around town and window shop. All the money raised from this event goes to many other fun events in town. One of my favorites is at Christmas time, ‘Miracle on Main.’ Have you ever seen reindeer up close? Well you can on Main Street at nighttime during ‘Miracle on Main,’ a really fun night for all. The gingerbread contest is the best. We have so many creative people who bake and create wonderful sights. The only bad thing is that no one can eat any of the creations. Another fun thing is the yearly ‘Pet Parade.’ It brings out wonderful crowds that get to cheer on all the animals that go by.”
“I just adore how there are always people outside, walking around, riding bikes, or meeting down at our great park on Foster Avenue. The park is so beautiful. When you are on the playground or playing tennis, you get a great view of the Great South Bay.”
“This town and the people are so important to me because I have lived here all my life with such great memories and hope that this town will always have this great reputation. Sayville is a town of my past, present, and future."
“Come visit and see for yourself!”
Hannah's Home Run essay received resounding applause and compliments.
The Take A Duck to Class event included a conversation with celebrated LI Duck team member Ray Navarette, an All-Star who had a genuine gift for engaging the students. Ray shared stories that illustrated his determination to become a professional baseball player, his love for history and the inspiring example of Abraham Lincoln, and his positive message—the same message his parents gave him: “You can live your dream as long as you work hard, stay out of trouble, and do your homework.” He was a hit with the entire assembly!
For everyone’s amusement, Ray concluded the assembly by pitching a few Wiffle Balls to Hannah, some randomly chosen students, Principal Murray (who hit a high fly, he is relieved to admit), and QuackerJack. Following this, a smaller question-and-answer session was held in the Student Center with Hannah, her core teacher, Mr. Sean McLaughlin, and core classmates. Fielding questions from the many LI Ducks fans among them, Ray Navarette was impressed by their sports knowledge and answered with refreshing sincerity.
As promised by the promotional ads, the visit from the Long Island Ducks was truly “an unforgettable day of learning and fun.” Many thanks go to Doug Cohen, LI Ducks Senior VP of Sales. and Taylor Turner, LI Ducks Community Relations, who set up the presentation as well as TD Bank’s Eric Fishon and Therese Mora who also provided Hannah’s core classmates with TD Bank gift bags. Most importantly, congratulations, Hannah, for having the winning words that made it all happen.