�Most people like learning about the future but I like...

�Most people like learning about the future but I like the past,� explains 13 year-old John Petrakis of Manhasset, who is currently in the process of developing a book on his towns history. (Feb. 17, 2012) (Photo by Nancy Borowick) Credit: Photo by Nancy Borowick

Eighth-grader John Petrakis does not have a typical after-school job.

As vice president of the Manhasset Preservation Society, the 13-year-old is trying to learn the hamlet's history and encouraging others to do likewise.

Last month, Petrakis and preservation society president Norman Nemec organized a showing of the documentary "Spinney Hill: The African American History of Manhasset & Great Neck."

Petrakis asked Charles Cardillo, superintendent of Manhasset schools, to help spread word of the documentary on campuses in the North Shore community of about 8,000 residents.

"He was very poised," Cardillo said. "He was very thoughtful and showed a lot of initiative."

The screening brought out about 200 people, including students and teachers. "I didn't think people were going to be so eager to learn about history," Petrakis said, adding that the film gave him more insight into what life was like from the early 1900s to the 1970s.

And it spurred his hunger for history. "I wanted to know more about it and do more research," he said.

To that end, he and Nemec have begun compiling a book on the history of Manhasset, which may have begun as a Native American village. Its name is derived from a native word meaning "island neighborhood."

Petrakis grew curious about a history of his hometown after he read about Kiera Grassi and Hannah Mutum, two teenagers who -- with the help of their community's historical society -- wrote a book about the history of Franklin Square. "I found out there was no book about Manhasset," Petrakis said.

Petrakis contacted Nemec, who saw something he liked in the teen and rewarded his dedication with the office of vice president. Petrakis is the first -- and youngest -- to hold the job. "I was impressed by his commitment," Nemec said. "He takes it very seriously."

"I'm like his assistant in a way," Petrakis said. "I'm going to be doing some research and writing captions."

While always focused on math and science, the Manhasset Middle School student has developed an interest in the past. "He's a very bright boy," said Robert Sudaley, Petrakis' science teacher. "He follows through on everything."

"Most people want to see what the future looks like, but I like learning about the past because you missed out on it, so you don't realize what attributes and legacies have been left," Petrakis said.

Petrakis, whose parents encouraged him to learn about his heritage, thinks his friends will be impressed by his position when the secret is revealed.

"I'll tell them I'm going to write the book, and then they'll probably ask a lot of questions," he said.

"Now, my priority is to start the book and just do all I can to have it finished and then see what happens next."

Test results on Bethpage drums … SBU president leaving … Hamptons tiny home Credit: Newsday

Cops: No credible threat to cricket matches ... Test results on Bethpage drums ... Jury deliberates in Trump case ... New East End shops

Test results on Bethpage drums … SBU president leaving … Hamptons tiny home Credit: Newsday

Cops: No credible threat to cricket matches ... Test results on Bethpage drums ... Jury deliberates in Trump case ... New East End shops

Latest videos

SUBSCRIBE

Unlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months

ACT NOWSALE ENDS SOON | CANCEL ANYTIME