EAST ORANGE, NJ - Mayor Lester E. Taylor III took time out of his busy schedule last week to honor and recognize the accomplishments of some of East Orange’s youth who are doing great things.

Nia Pierce, a sophomore at the Cicely L. Tyson School for the Performing and Fine Arts, won first place in this year’s statewide ACT-SO (Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics), which are national youth competitions sponsored by the NAACP. She will be representing the State of New Jersey while competing in the national contest in Las Vegas, Nevada this summer. Although Nia is a talented harpist, she also plays the piano and clarinet.

Mayor Taylor presented Nia with a proclamation detailing her success, as she was joined by her dedicated teacher Robbin Gordon-Cartier, proud parents Calvin and Valerie Pierce, and her younger brother Walter.

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“I remember we tried to introduce the piano to my son, Calvin, Jr., who really didn’t have that much interest in learning,” recalls Mr. Pierce. “So, he started showing Nia at a young age how to play, and she picked up on playing right away. She started at the Tyson School as a pianist and performed in several performances there. She was later introduced to the harp by Mrs. Gordon- Cartier and Nia became hooked,” her father beamed.

Nia was the featured harpist during Mayor Taylor’s inauguration ceremony held at the Tyson School on January 1st.

In addition, Mayor Taylor recognized the recent success experienced by the newly re-activated East Orange Police Athletic League (P.A.L.) basketball team. The ten-member group competed against like P.A.L. teams from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut during a May 3rd tournament, which was held at the Hart Middle School in East Orange.

P.A.L.’s two divisions, A and B, consist of eight team

representing various age groups: 17 and Under, 15 and Under, and 8th grade and 6th grade divisions. The rookie East Orange 17 and Under team in Division A maintained a no-loss season after experiencing an eight-year inactive period. After contacting the Adidas® Hoop Challenge, East Orange played against and beat the Division B team from Plainfield, where both teams were undefeated in their respective divisions.

Mayor Taylor presented a proclamation to the entire team, along with certificates to each of the individual players. P.A.L.’s coaches, Sgt. Maurice Boyd; Det. John Cato; and East Orange Campus High School boys’ basketball head coach Mr. William Lovett, as well as several representatives from the Police Chief’s office were present. Also present was Mr. Matthew Stevens, director of the City’s department of Recreation and Cultural Affairs, who will hire the boys for this year’s summer programs.

While addressing the young men assembled, Mayor Taylor encouraged them to continue striving toward greatness by drawing on his own experience and outlook on life. “I made it up in my mind that whatever I was going to do, I wanted to be in a position where I could have control, and I knew part of hat involved becoming a lawyer,” the mayor stated. He also asserted that, referring to himself as a young mayor, it is possible for anyone to achieve what they sought, no matter their age.

Each of the players are true student athletes, where eight out of the ten players are regularly on their respective schools’ honor rolls, and at least two of the players are in the National Honor Society. To find out more about the East Orange P.A.L. Program, or how to get involved, contact Sgt. Maurice Boyd at (973) 266-5009, or via e-mail at: mboyd@njeopd.com.