After scoring gold medals in the regional Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics (ACT-SO) competition this spring, six Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) students recently competed at the national ACT-SO event held in Atlantic City on July 14-17. 

The ACT-SO program – founded in 1978 and affiliated with the NAACP – aims to enrich high school students of African descent both academically and culturally. ACT-SO holds 32 diverse competitions, which students prepare for during the year-long program. These competitive categories include everything from STEM and business to performing and culinary arts. 

The following students placed in their respective categories.  

  • Isaiah DeLeonard, rising sophomore at La Plata High School, placed second with a Silver Award in the Music Composition category. 
    • As a silver-award winner, DeLeonard received $1,500, an iPad, AirPods and an Oculus Virtual Reality Headset. 
  • Shaniyah Hall, rising sophomore at North Point High School, placed third with a Bronze Award in the Mathematics category. 
    • As a third-place winner, Hall received $1,000, an iPad, AirPods and an Oculus Virtual Reality Headset. 

During the national ACT-SO awards ceremony, actress Lupita Nyong’o made a surprise appearance. Nyong’o partnered with Lancôme and awarded 40 high school students with a $10,000 “Write Her Future” scholarship.  

The scholarship, available to young women of color in the ACT-SO program, strives to promote literacy and entrepreneurship in marginalized communities. College-bound 2022 graduates of Maurice J. McDonough High School, Candace Jackson and Paris Roberson, were both awarded the scholarship. Only 40 scholarships were distributed to students nationwide.  

“I was proud, like a proud parent,” Charles County NAACP ACT-SO chairperson Dora Myles-Moore said about the students’ achievements. 

Myles-Moore became involved with ACT-SO while in high school, participating while living in New York City. She credits the program with exposing her to students like herself and developing her networking skills. After relocating to Southern Maryland, Myles-Moore met Charles County NAACP president Dyotha Sweat, who encouraged her to become involved with ACT-SO again. 

“It shows [the students] that there is a community backing them, supporting them,” Myles-Moore said. “There’s so much negative press around our youth and to be able to highlight the great things they are doing is extraordinary.” 

Other students who participated in the event included: 

  • Candace Carrington, rising junior at Thomas Stone High School, Poetry Performance category. 
  • Kelsey Njembu, 2022 graduate of North Point, Music Instrumental – Classical category. 

Students interested in the 2022-2023 ACT-SO program can visit for more details. 

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