LAURINBURG — Scotland County’s NAACP ACT-SO members will be busy on Saturday with a day filled with competition and recognition.
Members of the NAACP’s youth council will compete at 11 a.m. in the annual ACT-SO at the Clinton Inn Hotel.
Rena McNeil, the organization’s youth advisor said this year there will be between 20 to 25 students participating in the competition — performing in humanities, science, and visual arts.
She said the competition was started four decades ago by Vernon Garrett, a journalist from Chicago.
“I fell in love with his ability to push students to do what they love to do,” said McNeil.
The students will be judged by educators and others who are professionals in the respective fields of competition.
Scotland County is the only chapter in North Carolina competing.
“It is the spirit of the young people — 99 percent of all our kids go to school and matriculate out,” said McNeil. “The others go to the military. It’s a success story. I do several competitions, but this competition is top of the line for me.”
Participants in the competition will have a chance to move on to the national competition in Cincinnati, Ohio. There was one national winner from the county last year.
In order to move forward the youth must receive a 95 or higher to receive a gold medal. McNeil said the nationals are similar to the local competition, but more demanding and with more opportunity for youth to contextualize their backgrounds. They also get to meet with other students who share interests.
Competition winners will be announced during the 2016 NAACP Image Awards, also at the Clinton Inn Hotel, at 6 p.m. on Saturday Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children.
“We will also announce those people the youth have recognized — volunteers that supported the efforts of the students. It’s our way of saying thank you,” said McNeil.
She said there will be approximately 30 awards presented. These will include the students who competed but did not receive the 95 or higher score.
“All the youth are winners and we want to lead with that spirit.”
McNeil said the image awards are an example of giving credit when people work together in the community.
“It shows we have a team of people who care.”
This year Dr. Jennifer Isenhour Rhue is being recognized as Woman of the Year. State Rep. Garland Pierce, pastor of Bright Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church, is Man of the Year. Johna Speller is Youth of the Year and Octavia McLean is Student of the Year.
“We try to bridge the gap between youth and those who are older.”
Maria D. Grandy can be reached at 910-506-3171.