NJ students win nine medals at NAACP Competition
LaToya Dove, South Jersey Journal Student Intern | 7/28/2014, 11:37 a.m.
New Jersey students recently won nine national medals at the national NAACP ACT-SO Competition, held at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
New Jersey had 29 students that competed in 24 of the 27 possible areas of competition. These competitions ranged from medicine and health to music composition.
Students compete on the state level and the gold medalists from the state progress to the national competition.
The students arrived in Las Vegas on Wednesday, July, 16.
On Thursday, July 17, the students had an orientation led by the new director of the National NAACP ACT-SO Competition, Larry Brown Jr. who is also an ACT-SO alumnus.
On the morning of Friday, July, 18, the competition began.
“I felt very confident, nervous and excited,” said ACT-SO student, Christopher Jones.
Some areas of competition were open to observers while other areas were not. The first bronze medal of the night went to Gloucester County ACT-SO student Pearis Bellamy for Biology. “It was honestly a blessing and an honor for me to have been able to win a national medal,” said Bellamy.
“At some points I was moved to tears,” said Brown of the competition he observed.
On Saturday, July, 19, the students attended workshops that were aimed to expand their minds.
Actress Bresha Webb hosted the award ceremony in the hotel’s ballroom on Sunday, July 20. There were performances by ACT-SO competitors of poetry, vocals, and dance. Professional singing group, McClain performed and a tribute to Maya Angelou was included.
The first bronze medal of the night went to Gloucester County ACT-SO student Pearis Bellamy for Biology. “It was honestly a blessing and an honor for me to have been able to win a national medal,” said Bellamy.
There were four gold medals, one silver medal, and four bronze medals awarded to New Jersey ACT-SO.
Brown said there were 110 area programs from across the country in attendance at the competition. He also said there was a competitor representing every area of competition.
ACT-SO is an acronym for Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological, and Scientific Olympics. It is an enrichment program and competition for high school minorities. The nationals are held in the same city as the annual NAACP National Convention.
“Each year, the national competition renews my commitment to our youth and re-energizes me to continue my work,” said New Jersey state chairperson, Deborah Smith-Gregory. She is excited for the next season of ACT-SO and next year’s national competition in Philadelphia, PA.
New Jersey student winners in the national NAACP ACT-SO completion include:
• Abiola Oladele - Sculpture, Trenton
• Chental Bembry - Business, New Brunswick
• Michael Spearman - Music Composition, Camden
• Maya Moten - Physics, New Brunswick
• Demetrius Beckham - Medicine & Health, Newark
• Hannah Sawyerr - Poetry, New Brunswick
• Taquan Allen - Filmmaking, Camden
• Isaiah Devereaux - Mathematics, New Brunswick
• Pearis Bellamy - Biology, Gloucester County