Giving Back

2012 Summer Olympian Samyr Laine Inspires at Black History Month Dinner in West Orange

Samyr Laine Credits: Amanda Martinez
Student Council Treasurer Anita Calmday and Student Council President Melissa Damestoir. Credits: Amanda Martinez
Michael Leonardis Student Council Vice President, Melissa Damestoir Student Council President
Food Served by Sodexo Credits: Amanda Martinez

WEST ORANGE, NJ – On Friday night, over 150 guests filled the student cafeteria at West Orange High School (WOHS) for the 2015 Black History Month Dinner, where 2012 Haitian Summer Olympic triple jumper and Harvard graduate, Samyr Laine, was the guest speaker. Monies raised from the event will go toward the Student Council Scholarship to be awarded to an actively-involved senior member of the Council.

Laine urged students to pursue their dreams and to take opportunities when they knocked. 

“You have to be passionate about your desires,” said Laine. 

Sign Up for E-News

Amidst black and gold balloons, in a room filled by friends, residents, students, faculty and friends, WOHS Principal Hayden Moore spoke about what black history means to him and its impact on society. Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements and a time for recognizing the central role of African Americans in U.S. history. Since 1976, every US president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month.

“Black history means I pay homage to the people who worked hard and allowed me to get where I am,” said Moore. “I am proud to be the Principal of West Orange High School.” 

Guests dined on a buffet dinner of salad, cornbread, chicken, baked macaroni and cheese, yams and an assortment of desserts provided by Sodexo, while the jazz band played in the middle of the room.

As guests danced by their chairs all night long, students performed solo dances and in dance groups, there were also poetry readings, duets, and an assortment of music selections. In addition, the Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps performed.

It’s good to see the talents the students possess,” said Student Council Advisor Krista Romanyshyn.

The night ended as guests applauded and gave thanks to the WOHS students for honoring Black History Month. 

“I wasn't expecting my friends to come,” said Student Council Vice President David Montague, a senior. “I’m very happy and proud of the turnout—it exceeds what I expected.”

“It’s a very important night for West Orange,” said Romanyshyn.

“The event is a humbling experience,” said Student Council President Melissa Damestoir.

“It’s a great event, considering the cold weather,” said District Supervisor Steve Olshalshy. “The turnout is excellent. The most important thing is the support—it’s a wonderful event the school hosts.”

About Samyr Laine

Laine’s story is one of perseverance. According to Wikipedia, Laine dabbled in track events throughout his life, beginning in seventh grade as a sprinter and steeplechaser. He then went on to play on the high school tennis team and to also participate in the triple jump, which improved from 42 feet (12.80m) to 45 feet (13.70m) indoors and then to 46 feet (14m) outdoors—and helped him take 3rd place at the State Championships.

He was then recruited by many Ivy League schools and ultimately chose to attend Harvard University, where he was a roommate of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s and was the 14th member of Facebook.

While at Harvard, Laine’s jump improved to over 7 feet (2.15m). He took two second place finishes at the conference championships in his freshman year, and then placed first in indoors and outdoors for the next two years. In his junior year, he achieved All-American status at the NCAA Championships. At that meet, he not only set what was the Ivy League record at the time and still is the Harvard University triple jump record of 51 feet, 11 1/4 inches, and Harvard's outdoor triple jump record of 53 feet, 7 1/2 inches. Though he was sidelined his senior year with injuries, Laine was still voted team captain. Because he was redshirted, he was able to use his final season eligibility to participate in track at the University of Texas, where he finished his graduate program. He then graduated from the Georgetown University law Center in 2010.

In 2012, Laine took 11th place in the Triple Jump at 16.65m, in the Olympic Games in London.

Laine currently resides in Alexandria, Virginia, speaks fluent French and is working a book, "A Foot in Two Worlds" (Thinkworks Publishing). Laine is also working on his Jump for Haiti Foundation, which focuses on mentoring Haitian children and developing more Haitian athletes.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

West Orange

$100 OFF per Week for Summer Camp Now!

July 12, 2018

Guerrero Marital Arts is now offering an 8-week summer camp for summer 2018!

Pick which weeks you want!

Camp Weeks are:

July 16, July 23, July 30, August 6, August 13, August 20, August 27

Includes the following:

Fun (through Sports, Play and Games)
Field Trips (may cost extra)
Life Lessons
Reading Time
Martial Arts
A great place to ...

Bucco Couture Summer Sale on All Custom Suits, Shirts and Casual Wear

NUTLEY, NJ — Save while looking sharp! 20% off all summer wear an extra 10% savings for Military, Veterans and all first responders at Bucco Couture, 187 Franklin Avenue in Nutley, with the launch of some new products such as our tracksuit line, crushed cotton drawstring pants and jeans. 

We also carry Bugatchi and Rober Graham casual wear as well as stretch high V-neck ...

Newark Lures Amazon With $1 Billion Payroll Tax Incentive

July 14, 2018

NEWARK, NJ - Amazon will get a payroll tax break at a cost of $1 billion to the city should the company open its second headquarters in Newark, according to one of two ordinances approved by the Newark City Council council to sweeten the deal for the corporate giant and stand out among other locations vying for Amazon’s so-called HQ2.

“The City Council has brought Newark a ...

Upcoming Events

Wed, July 18, 10:00 AM

Cancer Center Resource Room, Belleville

Living Well with Parkinson’s Disease Support ...

Health & Wellness

Wed, August 15, 10:00 AM

Cancer Center Resource Room, Belleville

Living Well with Parkinson’s Disease Support ...

Health & Wellness


Sat, August 25, 2:00 PM

Oskar Schindler Performing Arts Center (OSPAC), West Orange


Arts & Entertainment Giving Back

Public Invited to Essex County Opioid Use Prevention Task Force Meeting

July 15, 2018

CALDWELL, NJ — All Essex County residents, mayors and councils, law enforcement members, school officials, clergy members, civic organizations and more are invited to join in the next Essex County Opioid Use Prevention Task Force meeting on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. to discuss how the Essex County communities can join work together to eradicate this epidemic.

The meeting will be held at the ...

Extra Time

It was close to 70 minutes into the match and I had to go to the bathroom.  Badly.

As fans watching the World Cup know too well, bathroom breaks are a serious dilemma, especially for those who don’t have a TV in the loo.  This biological necessity is exasperated by beer, which during World Cup matches also fuels a strong propensity to throw chairs and instigate riots.

'Servant of Two Masters' exudes foolish fun

‘Servant of Two Masters’ makes for foolish, frivolous fun

By Liz Keill

MADISON, NJ –Carlo Goldoni’s “The Servant of Two Masters,” in a rousing translation and adaptation by Bonnie J. Monte, has the outdoor audience at The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey laughing and clapping all the way through.

The yearly production, held at the amphitheatre on the ...