ACT-SO competitors pack up for Texas
By By Steve Gillespie / staff writer
June 27, 2002
Seeing there was no local representation in the NAACP's ACT-SO Scholarship program, the Rev. William Edwards set out to get young people involved.
ACT-SO stands for the Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics. The competitive scholarship program has been sponsored by the NAACP for 25 years.
Edwards will accompany three young people from Meridian to Houston next week for national competition in the program.
Participation in the program is open to the public in more than 20 different fields ranging from computer programming to the performing arts to science. With encouragement from Obie Clark, president of the local NAACP branch, Edwards contacted officials in the organization's state office in Jackson to get the program established locally.
Edwards said there were eight entries on the local level whose submissions were scored by five judges based on criteria established by the NAACP.
Meridian High School student A'Akeela Hudnall, 16, was chosen as a representative to compete in the poetry and original essay competition on the national level.
Amanda Harrison, 18, a Meridian High School honor graduate, was chosen to compete nationally in the fields of dance and drama.
Meridian High School student Tashia Jasper, 15, was chosen as an alternate for competition in the poetry and original essay category.
Harrison said she had not heard of ACT-SO before entering. She plans to go to school at the University of West Alabama and major in speech pathology.
A self-taught dancer, she is a dance instructor at Boys and Girls Club of Lauderdale County.
The group is scheduled to leave Meridian for Houston on July 4. The competition is scheduled for July 6, and the awards ceremony on July 7. Travel expenses are being paid by the local NAACP chapter.
A great opportunity
Edwards said ACT-SO is open to students in grades 9-12. Winners in the national competition can receive scholarships of up to $20,000.
Edwards, 38, moved to Meridian in February. He was familiar with ACT-SO because he worked with the program in Indiana and California.
He said Jasper, though she is an alternate competitor, will gain valuable experience by attending the national competition. Students can be a part of ACT-SO each year of high school.
Jasper said the essay she wrote dealt with unresolved issues in America, such as racism, health care, poverty and terrorism. The poem she submitted is called "Why."