Two Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) students secured gold, silver, and bronze medals at the National NAACP ACT-SO competition held in Boston earlier this summer. ACT-SO — the NAACP’s Afro-Academic, Culture, Technological, and Scientific Olympics — is an achievement program specifically tailored for high school students of African American descent in Grades 9 to 12.

Isaiah DeLeonard, a rising junior at La Plata High School, was awarded a gold medal in the music composition category and a silver medal in the architecture category. Jonathan Haralson, a rising senior at North Point High School, received the bronze medal in the engineering category.

Isaiah DeLeonard, left, and Jonathan Haralson, both Charles County Public Schools students, earned medals at the national ACT-SO competition held earlier this summer. Credit: Charles County Public Schools

Both students earned their spots in the national competition by securing top positions at the local contest hosted by the Charles County branch of the NAACP this spring. Four other CCPS students who won gold medals at the local competition competed at the nationals.

The additional students include Niya Cox, a rising senior at Westlake High School, who competed in the drawing category; Kaylee Davis, a North Point graduate who attends Bowie State University, took part in the classical music instrumental category; Shaniyah Hall, a rising junior at North Point, participated in the photography and poetry performance categories; and Haili Powell, a rising senior at La Plata, competed in the contemporary music vocal performance and written poetry categories. Powell was also privileged to perform during the national competition’s award ceremony.

Charles County Public Schools students Niya Cox, left, Haili Powell, Kaylee Davis, Shaniyah Hall, Jonathan Haralson and Isaiah DeLeonard won gold medals at the local ACT-SO competition earning them a spot to compete at nationals. Credit: Charles County Public Schools

ACT-SO is designed to stimulate, recruit, and encourage high academic and cultural achievement among Black high school students. It is a yearlong program culminating in a national competition, usually held in July, in conjunction with the NAACP National Convention.

The competition offers a diverse range of fields for students to explore. With over 30 fields in six categories, including science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), performing arts, humanities, visual arts, business, and culinary arts, ACT-SO provides competitive areas to suit nearly every interest.

The achievement of the CCPS students in the competition highlights the ongoing commitment to academic excellence and cultural enrichment among young African American students. The success of these talented students also reflects the positive impact of the ACT-SO program in nurturing skills and talents in various fields.

For those interested in learning more about ACT-SO, the program’s website can be accessed at

David M. Higgins II is an award-winning journalist passionate about uncovering the truth and telling compelling stories. Born in Baltimore and raised in Southern Maryland, he has lived in several East...

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