On Sunday, July 21, seventeen-year-old Jordan Patton, representing the Pasadena/Duarte ACT-SO team, a program of the Pasadena NAACP Branch #1054, brought home the silver medal in Original Essay at the annual ACT-SO competition portion of the 110th NAACP Annual Convention in Detroit, Michigan. Since establishing the Pasadena/Duarte competition in 2010, students competing in the Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological Olympics (ACT-SO), have won nine national medals for the communities.
Patton’s essay, “America’s Unjust Criminal Justice System,” focused on the inequities in the court and justice systems as evidenced by disproportionate sentencing of African American men compared to Caucasian men committing the same crimes. In addition to judging of the essay’s writing – mechanics, ideas, organization – students also prepared to answer questions from judges on their pieces, testing the competitors’ ability to present themselves and stand behind their work. When Patton won the gold medal at the local ACT-SO competition held on April 27 in Duarte, CA, feedback from the judges emphasized that he would need to work on his presentation to better reflect the strength and power they felt from reading his essay.
Patton’s diligent preparation paid off as this rising senior from Marshall Fundamental School in Pasadena will have a silver medal, a $1,500 prize, and a new iPad to brag about as he enters his last year of high school before starting college in fall 2020.
"As a young African American man, this experience has changed my life. Just being in the regular presence of my peers and following through with coaches and mentors, my life has changed; I now have a direction for the future,” Patton expressed about his personal growth from the competition.
He will also be featured at a series of San Gabriel Valley events including the upcoming NAACP production of the Fannie Lou Hammer story and the NAACP 100th Anniversary Celebration in October where he will be the Outstanding Youth Award recipient.
Ten youth total, including two from Duarte High School and six from the California School of the Arts-San Gabriel Valley, competed in categories spanning photography, writing (original essay, poetry, short story), dance and both instrumental and vocal music.
“Our branch prides itself on always bringing a diverse delegation to Nationals,” stated Pasadena/Duarte ACT-SO co-chair Lois Gaston. “Our students tend to compete across all categories, representing different races, nationalities, income levels, family structures and lived experiences. We believe in developing powerful youth voices.”
Gaston organizes the youth and local ACT-SO competition alongside Aida Torres, Karen Herrera, Terri Jenkins and Duarte Mayor Tzeitel Paras-Caracci. Marilyn Mays serves as the main Chairperson and is also the Recreation Supervisor at the Duarte Teen Center, offering robust programming for youth development, ACT-SO being one among them.
“We are extremely grateful for the support of the Pasadena NAACP Branch #1054, students, parents, mentors, judges and sponsors each year who make it possible for youth to compete locally and nationally,” said Herrera. “It’s truly a community investment in our students that continues to yield big wins and highlights the bright minds we have in Duarte, Pasadena and the greater San Gabriel Valley.”
Pasadena/Duarte ACT-SO National Competitors:
Hugh Alexander, Photography, Duarte High School
Kayla Collins, Music Vocal Classical, CSArts-SGV
Olgavier Garcia, Poetry Written, Duarte High School
Dorian “Alexsis” Guerrero, Poetry Performance, CSArts-SGV
Jordanne Guidry, Filmmaking, CSArts-SGV
Miranda Kleier, Music Vocal Contemporary, L.A. County School of the Arts
Kaitlyn Ng, Music Instrumental Contemporary, CSArts-SGV
Jordan Patton, Original Essay, Marshall Fundamental School
Isabella Ponce, Short Story, CSArts-SGV
Amber Serrano, Dance Contemporary, CSArts-SGV
An immense thank you to our sponsors this year including the Pasadena Branch NAACP #1054, MVP Development, California American Water, City of Hope, CSArts-SGV Foundation, Burrtec Waste Industries, Duarte Education Foundation, the Duarte Emblem Club, Duarte Kiwanis, the Duarte Elks Club, and many others.
For additional information about the ACT-SO program, contact the Pasadena NAACP #1054 Branch at (626) 793-1293 or the Duarte Teen Center at (626) 303-0863.