Jackson Cocciolone, a fifth-grader at Harbor Country Day School in St. James, beat 4,000 contestants for the grand prize in a tri-state contest sponsored by the French Embassy in Manhattan that invited students to create a work of art to honor the Eiffel Tower's 120th anniversary. The prize: a trip for two to Paris.
Jackson's winning creation was "Happy Birthday Eiffel Tower," an original song he wrote with piano accompaniment by his mother, Connie.
"I was almost going to faint," said Jackson, 10, of winning. "The song came pretty easily. We whipped it out in hours."
Jackson researched the tower's history and pinpointed rhyming words with his French teacher, Jo Ann Chiet. He wrote the song at home and recorded it with his mother at a friend's studio in Northport.
Organizers told Jackson he was a winner but didn't reveal he had captured the grand prize until a ceremony at the embassy on Nov. 13.
"I'm so proud," said his mother, who has performed in a children's group. "The song shot out of him like a miracle."
Jackson said he plans to take his mother to Paris and is eager to try French food. "I'm eating four things," he said. "Cheese, mousse, fries and bread."