NAACP Youth Council members from throughout the region will showcase their knowledge and talents this weekend in the annual ACT-SO competition.
“The Scotland County NAACP’s Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics is a yearlong achievement program designed to recruit, stimulate, and encourage high academic and cultural achievement among high school students,” said Rena McNeill, coordinator of the Scotland County NAACP youth council.
ACT-SO will begin at 3 p.m. on Sunday in Avinger Auditorium on the campus of St. Andrews University. As few such competitions are held in North Carolina, local youth will be scored against members of other NAACP youth councils in 26 visual and performing arts, math, science, and humanities categories.
All competition winners will be eligible to compete at the national competition in Orlando, Fla. in July. Winners at the national level are awarded with college scholarships.
On Sunday evening, the youth council will hold its annual 30th annual Image Awards banquet in recognition of adults that contribute to youth achievement in the community. The awards will be held at 6 p.m. at The Highlands.
Brandi Jones-Bullock, a Durham resident, will be the guest speaker, relating her experiences working to break down the “school-to-prison pipeline.”
“She’s part of a team that has been looking at how a large number of kids are getting into the prison pipeline starting from school,” McNeil said.
Often, rule-breaking in school can leave a blemish on student’s records long after they graduate.
“I’ve had calls, one where a young lady did something when she was 17- she got in one fight,” said McNeil. “Now she’s a top student working on her master’s, but when she applied to be a guardian ad-litem, they can’t give it to her because of what’s in her records from high school. Every time she went to apply for something, she would say she had no record because she didn’t know that they had kept that.”
The 20 community members to be recognized are determined by youth votes. This year’s honorees include Woman of the Year Glenda Smith, Scotland Early College High School principal Joe Critcher, Youth of the Year Octavia McLean, Pastor of the Year, the Rev. Alford Dudley, and Father of the Year Walter Brown
“The kids do the recommendations for the Image Awards and we stand by it,” said McNeil. “We’re trying to show the strength of young people”