On July 14th, 2013 the Altadena NAACP ACT-SO (Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics of the Mind) won three national medals in Orlando, Florida at the 35th annual competition. ACT-SO, a National Youth Initiative of the NAACP is a yearlong enrichment program sponsored by local NAACP branches.
ACT-SO is designed to recruit, stimulate, improve and encourage high academic and artistic achievement, and cultural awareness in 9th-12th grade students. Each ACT-SO participant awarded a gold medal at the local level qualifies to compete in the National finals. The competition is held each summer in conjunction with the NAACP National Convention, in cities throughout the country, this year it was in Orlando.
Altadena has competed nationally, consistently since 1997, and has won 28 medals ranging from bronze to gold during that period.
This year the Altadena ACT-SO sent nine students to compete with over 750 students in 10 of the 27 categories offered by the program.
Dondei Dean competed in Calculus and won the silver medal for her project on "Optimizing the Fiji Water Bottle." Dondei will be attending Dartmouth next year on a full scholarship.
Jamael Dean competed in Instrumental Contemporary and won a silver medal, playing the jazz standard "All the Things you Are" on the piano. Jamael just finished his freshmen year in high school, but the national judges compared him to Oscar Peterson.
Alexandra Levatter also just completed the 9th grade and won the bronze medal in Instrumental Classical category, playing "Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso, Opus 28" by Camille Saint Saens on the violin and received tremendous accolades from the judges. Alexandra is one of the very few who has received a standing ovation for her performance at National ACT-SO.
Also representing the Altadena ACT-SO with outstanding performances and insightful, intellectual and artistic projects were Chelsea Johnson – Vocal Contemporary; Jean-Paul Vercher - Music Composition and Poetry; Danica Brown - Dance; Olivia Rivera - Original Essay; Omar Wiseman – Painting; and Alana Jackson - Microbiology.
The medals are awarded during an Olympic-style ceremony. This year the master and mistress of ceremonies were Tatyana Ali and Craig Wayans who presented awards and kept the mood light with interspersed performances by the student competitors.