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CCPS students place, earn scholarships at national ACT-SO competition

After scoring gold medals in the regional Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics (ACT-SO) competition this spring, six Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) students went on to compete at the national ACT-SO event recently held in Atlantic City on July 14-17.

The ACT-SO program – founded in 1978 and affiliated with the NAACP – aims to enrich high school students of African descent both academically and culturally. ACT-SO holds 32 diverse competitions, which students prepare for during the yearlong program. These competitive categories include everything from STEM and business to performing and culinary arts.

The following students placed in their respective categories.

  • Isaiah DeLeonard, rising sophomore at La Plata High School, placed second with a Silver Award in the Music Composition category.
    • As a silver-award winner, DeLeonard received $1,500, an iPad, AirPods and an Oculus Virtual Reality Headset.
  • Shaniyah Hall, rising sophomore at North Point High School, placed third with a Bronze Award in the Mathematics category.
    • As a third-place winner, Hall received $1,000, an iPad, AirPods and an Oculus Virtual Reality Headset.

During the national ACT-SO awards ceremony, actress Lupita Nyong’o made a surprise appearance. Nyong’o – who partnered with Lancôme – awarded 40 high school students with a $10,000 “Write Her Future” scholarship.

The scholarship, available to young women of color in the ACT-SO program, strives to promote literacy and entrepreneurship in marginalized communities. College-bound 2022 graduates of Maurice J. McDonough High School, Candace Jackson and Paris Roberson, were both awarded the scholarship. Only 40 scholarships were distributed to students nationwide.

“I was proud, like a proud parent,” said Charles County NAACP ACT-SO chairperson Dora Myles-Moore about the students’ achievements.

Myles-Moore became involved with ACT-SO during her time in high school, participating while living in New York City. She credits the program with exposing her to students similar to herself and developing her networking skills. After relocating to Southern Maryland, Myles-Moore met Charles County NAACP president Dyotha Sweat, who encouraged her to become involved with ACT-SO again.

“It shows [the students] that there is a community backing them, supporting them,” Myles-Moore said. “There’s so much negative press around our youth and to be able to highlight the great things they are doing is extraordinary.”

Other students who participated in the event included:

  • Candace Carrington, rising junior at Thomas Stone High School, Poetry Performance category.
  • Kelsey Njembu, 2022 graduate of North Point, Music Instrumental – Classical category.

Students interested in the 2022-2023 ACT-SO program can visit for more details.

About CCPS

Charles County Public Schools provides 27,000 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 37 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.

The Charles County public school system does not discriminate based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Kathy Kiessling, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Nikial Majors, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 coordinator (employees/ adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646; 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event. CCPS provides nondiscriminatory equal access to school facilities in accordance with its Use of Facilities rules to designated youth groups (including, but not limited to, the Boy Scouts).