Miller Place fourth-grader sets example for community

Miller Place fourth-grader sets example for community

Miller Place Superintendent Marianne Cartisano presents Mia with an award as Kim Ledda and Debra White look on. Photo by Kevin Redding

Nine-year-old Mia Carvajal may be a new student at Laddie A. Decker Sound Beach School, but she’s already making a name for herself in the community. The caring fourth-grader who moved to Miller Place from Queens this year is one of just nine winners in the recent Suffolk County Marathon Essay Contest. Hosted by Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D), the contest encouraged “the future of the county” to address what they feel is important to society. More than 100 essays from across the county were submitted for review in October. For her hard work, Carvajal was recognized by the Miller Place district’s board of education at a meeting last week.

All students involved in the contest were separated by grades (K-2, 3-5, 6-8) and could choose from three different essay topics: veterans appreciation, living a healthy lifestyle and engaging in community activities. Mia — who won in her grade — wrote passionately about what residents can do to raise money for their community and give to those in need.

“Mia did an excellent, beautiful job,” said Kim Ledda, her fourth-grade teacher. “Her essay was wonderful and we’re just so proud of her.”

Ledda and assistant principal Debra White stood by as Mia accepted a certificate from Superintendent Marianne Cartisano and shook hands with each member of the board. Mia was visibly shy and quiet but smiling radiantly the whole time.

“I was really happy when Mrs. White told me that I won,” she said. When asked by a board member if she likes to write at home, she said that she keeps a journal.

“Mia is clearly committed to being involved in her community, helping to make it a better place to live for all residents.”

—Steve Bellone

Mia’s father Francisco was in attendance and said the family’s very proud of her.

“She’s always been very involved in school, always does her homework, and is extremely school-oriented,” he said.

It’s also clear that Mia is extremely community oriented and possesses a great deal of generosity when it comes to others.

In her essay, she encouraged residents in the community to follow in her family’s footsteps and donate clothes, shoes and toys to churches and centers that help the poor. As Thanksgiving approaches, Mia wrote that it’s important to donate cans of food to provide for others in need. As she put it in her essay: “By providing cans of food you may be saving someone’s life.”

She also recommends setting up a lemonade stand in front of a house as a way to raise money for a good cause.

“Lemonade stands are not just there to give you a refreshing drink,” she wrote.

She even offered a piece of advice to get as many people interested in donating as possible.

“I know that many people don’t like plain lemonade,” she writes, “so I think you should make a whole bunch of flavors so more people will come and enjoy your drink and donate.” Ledda said that at the end of the Suffolk County Marathon that took place in Patchogue Oct. 30, all the essay contest winners — including Mia ­— were invited up on a bandstand stage to be greeted and recognized by representatives from Suffolk County.

“I think that all the recognition she’s gotten from this will be worth more than any monetary gift,” Ledda said. “It’s pretty special to be recognized the way that she has been.”

In an email, Bellone had some words of pride for Mia.

“Mia is clearly committed to being involved in her community, helping to make it a better place to live for all residents,” Bellone said. “Thanks to the 100 or more young residents like Mia who participated in this contest, we can see that the future of Suffolk County is in good hands.”

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