From the mouths of babes came "inspirational essays" that touched the heart of Riverhead Central School District Superintendent Nancy Carney.
At Tuesday's board of education meeting, Carney said this year, 262 sixth grade students submitted essays in the eighth annual Garfield M. Langhorn Essay Contest at the Pulaski Street School.
Langhorn, Carney said, was a Riverhead High School graduate who died heroically in Vietnam when he saved the life of others by throwing his body over a grenade.
The theme of this year's essay contest, she said, was: "What can a person your age do to help?"
More entries than ever before were submitted, she said. "I congratulate the students and staff for really giving a meaningful assignment. This is very much an inspirational event. It's something that brings tears to your eyes each year."
An assembly was held, which offered information about Langhorn and his heroism. Winners were announced; Ella Malanga, a student in Mrs. Ivin's class, wrote: "We all know Garfield Langhorn as a hero. Most kids my age don't realize that the smallest things can make the biggest difference. Donating your things to the less fortunate, making money for causes, helping a neighbor clean up . . . are all things I am part of that don't require a lot, other than a heart. "
Sarah Anne Fried, a student in Mrs. Campo's class, said, "I can't believe such a hero graduated from Pulaski Street School. I don't know how someone can have such courage. As I get older, I hope to be there to serve my fellow man."
"One day I went to the PFC Garfield M. Langhorn post office with my mom. I read the story about him. It inspired me to think about others and not just about myself," wrote Kadarus Gainey, a student in Mrs. Baumann's class.
Receiving an Honorable Mention was Stephanie Hayes, of Mr. Frobey's class. "What an honor it is to attend the same school district as Garfield Langhorn," she wrote. "He should be an inspiration to everyone."
Garfield's mother, Mary Langhorn, presented the three winners with a gift certificate to Target and "Bubby" Brown's book of poetry. A luncheon at the Birchwood hosted by Mrs. Langhorn for the students, their parents and Principal David Densieski followed.