New type of class encourages Fairfield students to pursue passion projects

Students in Fairfield High School’s ACT-SO (Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics) are busy in the class as they prepare for their projects for an upcoming NAACP competition. Known as the “Olympics of the Mind,” the NAACP-affiliated youth program at Fairfield encourages high academic and and cultural achievement among African American high school students. It includes 32 competitions in STEM, humanities, business, and performing visual and culinary arts.

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Students in Fairfield High School’s ACT-SO (Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics) are busy in the class as they prepare for their projects for an upcoming NAACP competition. Known as the “Olympics of the Mind,” the NAACP-affiliated youth program at Fairfield encourages high academic and and cultural achievement among African American high school students. It includes 32 competitions in STEM, humanities, business, and performing visual and culinary arts.

Sometimes a launching pad for future leaders can look just like an everyday classroom.

That may be the case with Fairfield High School’s newest class designed to propel teens toward their dreams, fueled by their curiosity.

The Butler County schools’ ACT-SO (Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics) class is designed for students to create projects for later presentations in a district-wide competition, then later on the national level in a contest sponsored by NAACP.

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The ACT-SO competition, which is also known as the “Olympics of the Mind,” is a youth program of the NAACP that encourages high academic and cultural achievement among African American high school students.

Fairfield High School is one of the first in the region to participate.

It includes 32 competitions in STEM, humanities, business, and performing visual and culinary arts, said Gina Gentry-Fletcher, spokeswoman for Fairfield Schools.

“This class is very important to create opportunities for all students of color and we want to encourage them to pursue their interests in the arts, STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields and other areas,” said Gentry-Fletcher.

“It’s an open stage (in the classroom) where they can go in and pursue their passions. They are very excited about this class,” she said.

Fairfield junior Bri-Atia Birchmore is competing in three categories: Photography, poetry performance and musical vocal contemporary (singing).

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“This class is very important to me and I put my all into it,” said Birchmore.

ACT-SO classmate Rebecca Afrakoma – a senior – will be competing in the statistics category of the competition.

Afrakoma said she is putting together a presentation that questions the relatively higher percentage of prisoners nationwide who are African American as it exceeds the nation’s black population percentage.

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“If you have a lot of money, you can get away with more things,” she said of her presentation that will also include an examination of financial disparity that is often found among the black imprisoned populations’ families compared to those of other races.

The class allows a freedom and resources to pursue a passion for learning, she said.

“Last year I had the privilege of going to the nationals (competition) myself and I saw how invested people were in their projects and how passionate they were and it inspired me to do better this year,” said Afrakoma.

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