The Chattanooga Hamilton County Branch of the NAACP recognized the medal winners of its Annual ACT-SO (Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological, Scientific, Olympics) in a virtual competition.
ACT-SO is a national, year-long enrichment program for high school students offering 33 categories of academic and performance competition. Approximately 150 local ACT-SO programs compete for a chance to have their local winners advance to the National ACTSO Competition each summer.
Chattanooga’s ACT-SO 2020 Medalists (their Category and High School) include:
• Chelsea Brewster, Vocal Contemporary & Classical: Gold Medal, Heritage High;
• Liomar Mercedes, Vocal Contemporary: Silver Medal and Vocal Classical:
Bronze Medal, Center for Creative Arts graduate;
• Chloie Marshall, Poetry-Written: Silver Medal, STEM School;
• Icis Russell, Short Story: Silver Medal, Tyner Academy;
• John Paul Freeman, Drawing: Silver Medal, STEM School;
• Chloie Marshall, Drawing: Bronze Medal, STEM School;
• David Crum, Photography: Bronze Medal, McCallie School;
• Mekhi Jones, Dramatics: Bronze Medal, The Howard School;
• MaKenzie Ballard, Instrumental Classic: Bronze Medal, Center for Creative Arts; and
• A'yna Nelson, Vocal Contemporary: Bronze Medal, Center for Creative Arts
Officials said, "Chattanooga ACT-SO has made a difference by providing a positive environment for our youth. This year’s theme was Freedom to Create, Courage to Pursue, and Promise to
Thrive. Despite a global pandemic, the students were able to showcase their greatness virtually.
“Tennessee American Water has been a corporate sponsor [of the Chattanooga ACT-SO program] for over 10 years, and without the support of companies like the Tennessee American Water, the program would not be as successful,” said Thessela White, ACT-SO chairperson for the Chattanooga Chapter of the NAACP. “The community should support ACT-SO; If we want the best for our community, we should invest in our youth.”
NAACP Chattanooga Hamilton County Branch President George Calhoun says “The tireless dedication, relentless, and continuous energy to become the finest representation of excellence has been a group effort. This group efforts spans across volunteers such as the ACT-SO Committee Members and judges. The relentless spirit of the participants rewards the sacrifice of their time and of the participant’s parents and community members as well as the sponsor’s investment in our youth.”
“We are proud to support the ACT-SO program in the Chattanooga area for over ten years,” said Tennessee American Water External Affairs Manager Daphne Kirksey. “We believe that it is important to invest in our students through programs like this which bring out the best in our youth.” Tennessee American Water’s parent company, American Water, was named to the inaugural NAACP Equity, Inclusion and Empowerment Index in part due to its support of programs like ACT-SO.
Chattanooga ACT-SO double gold medalist, Chelsea Brewster, will compete among the top best ACT-SO high school participants in the United States. Students at the National ACT-SO have an opportunity to win thousands of dollars in cash prizes and scholarship opportunities. The 42nd National ACT-SO Competition and Awards Ceremony will be held virtually Aug. 12-15. The competition is free and open to the public. Feel free to use the hashtag #ACTSO on social media while watching the live competition. The Awards Ceremony will be live at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 15.
Officials said, "We invite you to lean in and be a part of the National ACT-SO Competition and Award Ceremony. Please plan to Host and/or promote a Watch Party as Chelsea represents
Chattanooga and Hamilton County. We invite current high school students and rising ninth graders who may have an interest in ACT-SO next year to view the National Competition. We encourage business professionals what may want to partner with us to judge or mentor students next year to view the National Competition."
To view the National Competitions, use the following link to register for the categories you want to view: (Be sure to select the Award Ceremony.):
To financially support the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Branch ACT-SO program, contributions and donations can be mailed to Chattanooga ACT-SO, P.O. Box 3226 Chattanooga, Tn. 37404, or contact Thessela White at 423-356-0896.