Lynn Tech Track Star gives New Meaning to the Term ‘Letter Winner’

By Cary Shuman

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Joe Skeadas, assistant athletic director at Lynn Tech, congratulates senior Arthina Robert on winning the MIAA statewide essay contest. Robert has been invited to read her essay at the MIAA Girls and Women in Sport Day on Feb. 4 at Faneuil Hall.

There’s some extra effort happening at Lynn Tech.

That’s the main ingredient that has led to senior Arthina Robert’s success in the school’s track program.

Tech assistant athletic director Joe Skeadas deserves credit for extra effort, too, as it was upon his recommendation that Robert decided to submit an entry to the MIAA statewide essay contest.

Robert is shown at an indoor track meet.

Robert finished in first place in the essay contest and will now have the esteemed honor of delivering a speech at MIAA Women and Girls in SportDay on Feb. 4 at historic Faneuil Hall in Boston. There will be hundreds of students and athletic directors at the annual event.

Skeadas, who is also Robert’s outdoor track coach, was thrilled after receiving the letter from the MIAA stating that her essay had been judged as the best in the contest.

“I’m very proud of Athena – she embodies exactly what we’re trying to promote here at Lynn Tech under our new administration and Principal Diane Paradis,” said Skeadas. “We’re trying to promote the student-athlete, especially the student first.”

Skeadas said there’s a concerted effort at Tech for students trying to push their grades upward, doing better in the classroom, and getting involved in community service and extracurricular activities.

“And Arthena is just leading the way and exactly what we’re looking for, and this honor is a perfect example of that,” said Skeadas.

The 5-feet, 3-inch Robert is certainly setting the pace in her track and field endeavors. She was eighth in the 100-yard dash in the Eastern Mass. championship meet and won the Commonwealth Conference 100-yard dash championship. She is also a member of the soccer team and captain of the outdoor and indoor track teams.

Robert, 18, was born in the Ivory Coast and came from Ghana to the United States in 2006 with her mother, Laklukamara, her sister, Leona (a Class of 2009 graduate of Lynn English), and other relatives.

She is an honor roll student who is specializing in the nursing assistant program at Tech. She hopes to attend college and UMass/Amherst is at the top of her list of schools.

Robert said she used the essay as a forum to tell about her life and the opportunities she has enjoyed in the United States.

“Mr. Skeadas suggested I write an essay about believing and achieving and what has inspired me in my life,” said Robert. “Coming from Africa to the United States really inspired me because of all the opportunities that are here. To have the opportunity to go to school for free, it’s one of the best things that’s happened to me so I try to take advantage of this opportunity to be a better person.”

During a recent visit that she and Skeadas made to MIAA headquarters for a captains’ workshop, Arthina saw past winning essays framed on the walls in the corridors.

“I asked Mr. Skeadas, do you ever think my essay can be here?” Robert recalled. “He said, ‘you never know.’” “I never thought my essay was going to be there, but it will be.”

Robert’s mother and grandmother will join coach Skeadas at the ceremony at Faneuil Hall.

As for Mr. Skeadas, there’s a big thank you note  coming his way.

“I just want to thank him, because if it weren’t for him, I never would have known about this contest,” said Robert. “He’s always looking out for me and telling me to work hard and go good things. I really like Lynn Tech. I already have a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) license and I hope to begin working in a co-op position at a nursing home.”

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