Ahead of Saturday afternoon’s Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Science (ACT-SO) Olympiad awards ceremony, several medalists spoke about the impact of recognition on their academic prospects.
Angel Holloway, 16, will be a freshman at Pine Bluff High School this fall and won a gold medal for his wooden and painted sculpture he developed as a video game character.
He hopes to produce video games in the future. Angel was encouraged by the recognition and support of his family.
“I am satisfied. It changed the way I see my art,” he said.
The second annual youth competition was sponsored by the Pine Bluff chapter of the NAACP and honored five high school students for their work in the visual arts, performing arts, or humanities.
The awards program was held at Bethany Chapel Missionary Baptist Church at 1923 S. Olive St.
Winners received gold, silver, or bronze medals, and gold winners were allowed to compete in national competitions and ceremonies held in conjunction with the NAACP National Convention in July in Boston, Mass.
“Society often focuses its attention on African-American students who excel in sports rather than in academics,” said Mary Ann Lee, chair of the selection committee.
This program gives high school students who have excelled in the arts and humanities the opportunity to receive the honors they deserve, Lee said.
Zach King, 18, graduated from Watson Chapel High School just a few days ago and will be studying physics at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff in the fall.
For the competition, he performed an instrumental version of John Coltrane’s “My One and Only Love” on his saxophone. He won the gold medal and is excited to compete at the national level.
Although music is not always held in high esteem, King, who also plays piano and trumpet, said his medal changed the opinion of others about his talent and his worth.
Felicia Jones, WCHS senior, won gold medals in the painting and drawing categories, and Emarie Mahogany, WCHS senior, won gold medals in the poetry and storytelling categories.
Sylvana Burgess, 16, will start Pine Bluff High School this fall and has won two ACT-SO awards – a silver medal for photography and a bronze medal for painting.
Sylvana has described her art as a hobby in the past, but said, “I’m going to try harder now.”
Although Sylvana will not be going to the Nationals this year, there is always next year, she said.
For more than 40 years, the NAACP’s ACT-SO program has helped shape some of the nation’s well-known young African Americans.
These include film producer John Singleton, actress Jada Pinkett Smith and comedian Anthony Anderson, Lee said.
The Pine Bluff NAACP is asking the public to help pay for the cost of sending these competition winners to the Afro-Academics, Cultural, Technological & Scientific Olympics this summer.
Checks can be made out to Pine Bluff NAACP, written ACT-SO on the annotation line, and mailed to PO Box 9064, Pine Bluff, AR 71611, or donated at Indigo Blue Coffeehouse, 212 W. Barraque St.