News / Special Event Coverage

See/Hear Heartfelt, Emotion-Filled Event As Newcomb Academy (K-8 School) Names Its North Athletic Field For Honor Student & Athlete Jalen Thayer

(April 3, 2011) -- In a heartfelt, emotion-filled event, the entire student body, teachers and administration of Newcomb Academy (K-8) School, joined by an Olympic Gold Medalist, USC Track Champion and USC Track Coach, held an outdoor assembly at midmorning March 31 to name the school's north athletic field for honor student, graduate and athlete, Jalen Thayer. provides extended video special event video coverage. To view it, click here.

Jalen, a straight "A" middle school student and decathlon athlete, has battled brain cancer for the past two years. He attended the event accompanied by his family, greeting the crowd by waving his hat from a wheelchair.

Jalen heard Newcomb Principal Beth Flynn tell him and the entire school: "When I think of you, words come to mind: kindness, thoughtfulness, intelligence, awesome athlete, fun loving and inspirational. You've been an inspiration to all of us."

USC Track Coach Ron Alice was called to the podium and at several points turned to speak directly to Jalen, telling him:

His name being on this facility, everytime somebody walks by, drives by [turns to Jalen], they are going to see your name. And you are going to inspire the future of these people who are standing out here and the future of people that are coming...[Addressing Jalen directly] You have touched the lives of all of these young people out here...and the future of people that are going to come by and see this field and see your name...You've impacted all of us. We salute you. We honor you...I'm honored to be here. Congratulations to you and your brothers and your family...

2004 Olympic Gold Medalist Shawn Crawford told the crowd, "It's just amazing to me how in our society we look stars or athletes or movie stars or things like that that we look up to...but to me it's people like Jalen and his family that touch my heart the a light in front of your eyes, and the people that are right in your neighborhood, in your peer group, are the ones that can mean the most to you and can change your life in so many ways..."

Mr. Crawford's wife, NCAA Hurdle Champion Ginnie Powell, and emotionally said she admired the fight in Jalen and his family.

In 2005, the Thayer family lost their five year old daughter to cancer. Last month, Jalen's father, a P.E. teacher and coach at Millikan High, received a budget-related LBUSD notice of potential layoff.'s Doug Krikorian writes that the family may lose their home in June.

In making the formal athletic field dedication, event co-organizer Newcomb P.E. Teacher Fay Tracy said, "It is with the greatest admiration and tremendous respect that we dedicate this field to you. From this day on, it will be called the Jalen Thayer Field in honor of the way you live your life on and off the field."

Offered the microphone at the conclusion of the event, Jalen told the crowd, "I just want to say thank you, and keep up that positive attitude, and all thanks to God."

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