Flagler students bring home medals from NAACP competition

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

PALM COAST – Two Flagler County high school students brought home medals from the NAACP’s 37th Annual Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics (ACT-SO) in Philadelphia.

150723_dt_community01The July 12 awards ceremony capped months of local competitions where students competed in 29 categories, ranging from performing arts and music to mathematics, biology and business.

Jayson Dwyer, a freshman at Flagler Palm Coast High School, won the gold medal in filmmaking.

Dominic Davis, a graduating senior at Matanzas High School, won the bronze medal in playwriting.

Together, they accumulated $4,500 in scholarships, and they both received Ipads.

ACT-SO is an enrichment program and competition for high school minorities. The nationals are held in the same city as the annual NAACP National Convention.

About the program
ACT-SO was founded in 1978 by renowned author and journalist Vernon Jarrett. Previous ACT-SO contestants and winners include filmmaker John Singleton, musician Kanye West, actress Jada Pinkett Smith and comedian Anthony Anderson.

The ACT-SO program centers on the dedication and commitment of community volunteers who serve as mentors and coaches to promote academic and artistic excellence among African-American students, and not withstanding business leaders, who sponsor the program. Students compete on the local level, and winners at the local level progress to the national competition.

Busy weekend
The student competitors arrived in Philadelphia on Thursday, July 9. They had a prep rally led by Edwina Finley, wife of Kevin Hart in the movie “Get Hard.” On the morning of July 10, the competition began.

On July 12, the students attended workshops that were aimed to expand their minds.

From the hit TV show, “Blackish,” actresses Yara Shahidi and Marsai Martin and actors Marcus Scribner and Miles Brown hosted the awards ceremony at the Kemmel Performing Arts Center on  July 13.

“It was my first year with ACT-SO and I was very nervous because I didn’t know what to expect,” said gold medalist Jayson Dwyer. “I met so many students from across the country that had so much talent; it was so inspiring. It was honestly a blessing and an honor for me to have been able to win a national medal.”

‘Don’t give up’
“When I heard the presenter call our chapter for the bronze medal in playwriting, I didn’t even wait for them to say my name; I was already running toward the stage,” said Dominic Davis. “After four years of competing in the national competition, to finally win a medal was worth the hard work and my dedication to the program. If I could leave one quote for those talented youth, it would be ‘to never give up on your goals. When you least expect success, it arrives.’ I did it; I brought home the bronze medal in playwriting!”

Flagler ACT-SO Chair Stephanie Ecklin noted, “Each year, the national competition renews my commitment to our local youth and resuscitates me to continue my work. I am super excited about our plans for the next season of ACT-SO and next year’s national competition in Cincinnati, Ohio.’’

E’Lexus Jefferson also competed in sculpting and Gina Evans represented Flagler in culinary arts.

The Flagler County ACT-SO Program is thankful to sponsors and supporters: Morganelle and Associates; GEICO; Prosperity Seekers Investment Club; Chiumento Selis Dwyer, P.L.; Rob’s JazzExpress; and for the other contributions donated by parents and friends.

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