Jack Stamer gets a smooch from his grandmother, Edie Levine, after reading his essay to the Little Silver council Monday night. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

What’s special about growing up in Little Silver? A Red Bank Regional senior’s essay on that theme earned him $1,000 toward college expenses Monday night.

Jack Stamer, who has spent his entire life in the borough, won an essay contest open to RBR seniors from town.

The scholarship was established last year by the nonprofit Little Silver Charitable Foundation, which organized the now-annual Little Silver Day to celebrate community spirit.

The contest drew 13 submissions, which were read and judged with the authors’ names hidden, foundation President Rick Brandt told the borough council at its semimonthly meeting Monday night.

Stamer, who graduates in June, is headed to the University of Wisconsin at Madison in the fall. Here’s his essay, which he read aloud to the council and a small audience:

Whenever I meet new people, one common question always comes up: where do you live? Throughout my life I have given multiple answers. When I was little, I would say “Little Silver” and most people would be confused. Now I respond with “Little Silver”, immediately followed by a descriptive phrase like “it’s by the shore” or “it’s near Sandy Hook”. The truth is that very few people outside Monmouth County’s little bubble actually know that Little Silver exists and I love it. I have grown up in Little Silver my whole life and I would never want to grow up anywhere else. It has a small town feel with big town options. Throughout elementary school and middle school, I have had personal relationships with basically everyone in my grade. I would play rec sports against my best friends. I remember always arguing at the lunch table about whose rec basketball team was better. Those Little Silver vs. Little Silver basketball games would always be so intense and come down to the last shot. Little Silver has a plethora of options: it has pizza places, ice cream shops, a grocery store, restaurants, salons, orthodontists, and breakfast joints to name a few of the many commodities. Gianni’s has always been a popular stop for me and my friends. I remember having half-days at Markham, going to lunch, then “hanging in town” because that was cool back then. Summers in Little Silver are the best. A twenty minute bike ride to the beach is a luxury. I love going to the beach with my friends on a daily basis. Winter isn’t too shabby here either. I remember putting my pajamas on inside out hoping for a snow day so I could bring my sled to Markham or play snow football with my friends. I would not have admitted it back then, but I am grateful for the teachers that have guided me through my years of becoming an adult. Along with my parents, these were the people that taught me more things than math and english, they taught me life lessons and how to grow into a young, hard working adult.

The best thing about growing up in Little Silver is the friendships that I have made. I have had the same best friend since second grade. Some of my other great friends are from Little Silver and I have met them through school and rec sports. I still remember the late summer nights that started with a local barbeque and ended with a neighborhood game of manhunt.

As leaving for college moves closer and closer, I start to think about how I will miss Little Silver. But then I also think about how grateful I am for growing up in the best town in the world. It has prepared me for my future and I will never forget this tiny, awesome town.