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Learn more about ACT-SO, an achievement program for high school students

ACT-SO — the NAACP’s Afro-Academic, Culture, Technological and Scientific Olympics — is an achievement program open to high school students of African American descent who are in Grades 9 to 12.

Designed to recruit, stimulate and encourage high academic and cultural achievement among Black high school students, ACT-SO is a yearlong program culminating in a national competition held in July in conjunction with the NAACP National Convention.

With more than 30 fields in six categories, there is an ACT-SO competitive area for almost every interest. Science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), performing arts, humanities, visual arts, business and culinary arts are the categories with various fields nested in each. Last year, CCPS students made it to the national stage in the fields of mathematics, music composition, poetry performance and classical instrumental music performance.

The Charles County branch of the NAACP is holding the local competition on Saturday, April 22, at the College of Southern Maryland's La Plata campus. The event starts at 10 a.m. and registration will available onsite. Students who wish to compete must be at CSM by 1 p.m. Saturday. 

Categories and fields

There are more than 30 competitive fields among the interest areas. From performing and culinary arts to STEM, students can demonstrate their prowess in up to three competition areas out of the 32 fields. Students must be U.S. citizens and amateurs to take part in ACT-SO. Click here to learn more about what each field entails.

  • STEM — Interest areas include architecture, biology/microbiology, chemistry/biochemistry, computer science, Earth and space sciences, engineering, mathematics, medicine and health, physics and sustainable design (pilot).
  • Performing arts — Dance including separate fields for ballet, contemporary, modern and traditional, acting, instrumental music in separate fields of classical and contemporary, vocal music in separate fields of contemporary and classical, oratory and poetry performance.
  • Humanities — Music composition, original essay, playwriting, written poetry and short story.
  • Visual arts — Drawing, filmmaking, painting, photography, sculpture.
  • Business — Entrepreneurship and hospitality management.
  • Culinary arts.

Local ACT-SO activities are slated to be held throughout the spring and summer leading up to the national competition. In April, a local ACT-SO competition will be held. From April through July, students advancing to the national contest will take part in local mentorships and enrichment programs to prepare. To learn more about the local ACT-SO program or to ask questions of the organizers, visit Click here for an ACT-SO competition application.

About CCPS

Charles County Public Schools provides 27,598 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 on the basis of 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 M. 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).