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updated: 3/31/2014 4:53 PM

16 DuPage County ACT-SO Gold Winners Advance to National Competition

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COD News Bureau

A record 16 students were awarded gold medals in 18 categories at this year's DuPage ACT-SO Awards. The students will move on to compete at nationals in Las Vegas in July.

Altogether, 57 students representing 28 area high schools placed in the DuPage County ACT-SO Local Competition held Saturday, March 15, at College of DuPage in the areas of Science, Business, Humanities, Performing Arts, and Visual Arts categories. Click here for photos from this event.

ACT-SO - the Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics - is a year-long enrichment program designed to encourage high academic and cultural achievement among high school students of African descent. The program features three components: mentoring, academic enrichment, and a local competition.

"Many students participate in ACT-SO two or three years in a row," said Dorletta Payton, Chairperson of the DuPage County ACT-SO program. "They work extremely hard to expand their knowledge and develop their talents to be the best, locally and among their peers, nationally."

The gold medal finalists and other winners were acknowledged at the ACT-SO Awards Banquet on Sunday, March 16, which was attended by more than 400 parents, ACT-SO alumni, volunteers and program partners such as Argonne National Laboratory, Outerwall, Inc., and McDonald's Corporation. This year's gold medal winners include:

• Architecture, Anwuli Onwuta, St. Charles-12

• Biology/Microbiology, Asare Nkansah, Waubonsie Valley-11

• Chemistry/Biochemistry, Robyn Henderson, Downers Grove South-12

• Dramatics, Jordan Henderson, Bolingbrook-12

• Drawing, Makayla Hughes, Metea Valley-12

• Entrepreneurship, Samuel Washington, Neuqua Valley-12

• Filmmaking, Darryl Crady, Saint Viator-11

• Mathematics, Bryce Smith, Metea Valley-12 (winner of the $500 COD Scholarship)

• Medicine & Health, N'Crai Pittman, Oswego East-12

• Music Composition, Tavis Reed, Illinois Math & Science Academy-10

• Music Instrumental Classical, Alexis Johnson, Rosary Catholic High-9

• Music Vocal Classical, Malcolm Smith, Bolingbrook-12

• Music Vocal Contemporary, Ebony Graves, Oswego East-11

• Oratory, Rashad Crosby, Naperville North-12

• Photography, Olivia James, Aurora Central Catholic-11

• Poetry, Robyn Henderson, Downers Grove South-12

• Sculpture, Kelechi Agwuncha,, Proviso Math & Science Academy-11

• Short Story, Robyn Henderson, Downers Grove South-12

DuPage County ACT-SO is a program of the DuPage County Branch of the NAACP and is sponsored by College of DuPage and the DuPage Regional Office of Education. The national ACT-SO program has helped more than 260,000 young people in 200+ communities across the country, open new doors to learning and define career paths since its inception 36 years ago.

The complete list of 2014 Local Competition winners and additional information about the DuPage County ACT-SO program is available at