NAACP academic contest wins Jade Crawford gold


A Malverne student earned gold at the National Association for the Advancement of People of Color’s annual Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics, or ACT-SO, earlier this summer.

For 45 years, the NAACP has brought together high school kids from across the country to compete in the prestigious, all academic competition. The treasurer of the Lakeview NAACP, Phyllis Wright, serves as the ACT-SO liason for most schools in Nassau County. She explained the process of gaining the interest of students, getting them involved, and trained by mentors for the local, and hopefully, even the national level competition.

Wright visit local high schools starting in September, gauging and encouraging interest in the program among the students. She also runs the workshops in which students go to meet with mentors that specialize in the area or areas students choose.

Students have the chance to choose 3 out of 33 possible areas of study, ranging from STEM, to the humanities, the arts, and even culinary aspects. Students train with their mentor from October until the local competition in April. Those that win a gold medal at the local level move on to the national competition, located wherever the NAACP convention takes place that year.

This year, the national convention took place in Atlantic City. All the student’s expenses for the national convention are covered. “I always like treating the youngsters to a high end dinner once we get to the convention,” explained Wright. “It’s become a tradition for me to take the students to a place in the city, known for African American history, like a museum or on a tour of the historic parts of the city.”

“There are usually 10 to 15 students we get interested in total from all the high schools,” Wright said of her coverage area. This year, four students stood out. Two students came from Malverne High School, and two others from Southside High School. These four students made it to the local competitions, but only two made it to the national level championship.

Jade Crawford, a senior at Malverne High School, won gold at the local level competition in drawing, painting, and in photography. She nabbed gold at the national level as well, earning the honor for her drawing skills.

Delyse Rios, a senior from Southside High School in Rockville Centre, won a gold medal for her biochemistry project at the local level, taking her to the national level where she won a bronze medal.

Each competitor must present their projects before a panel of judges that are knowledgeable in the specific subject area or areas the student chooses to present in. The judges are members of the NAACP and cannot have served in a mentor position that year.

Eligible students must be between grades 9 through 12, can be educated through private, public, or home schooling, must be a citizen of the US or hold a green card, must not a professional in the area of study the student wishes to present on, and must be of African-American descent.

The next NAACP convention will be held next summer in Boston. Wright is eager to begin going out to schools in September and encouraging student talent for a brand new cycle.