Lt. Governor Pat Quinn held a press conference July 5 to honor Illinois students who earned honors in the ACT-SO competition. ACT-SO stands for Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics, and it is a major initiative of the NAACP. ACT-SO was founded in 1978 by renowned author and journalist Vernon Jarrett, who passed away in May 2004. The first national competition was held in 1978 in Portland, Oregon.

The goal of ACT-SO is to encourage and reward the achievement of academic excellence in the Sciences, Arts and Humanities through a variety of formats, rewards and incentives. Awards and prizes consist of gold medalists, who receive a cash award in the amount of $1,000; silver medalists, who receive $750; and bronze medalists, who receive $500.

Attending the press conference along with Quinn was Vera G. Davis, president of Chicago Westside Branch NAACP; Steven Page, chairperson of ACT-SO (also a member of the Illinois Army National Guard); and Walter Perkins, co-chair.

ACT-SO winning students and the categories:

n Samuel Dew, 18, a senior at Whitney Young High School, won in the vocal/contemporary and vocal classical categories.

n Akia Banks-White, 19, a graduate from Hyde Park Career Academy, won in the oratory category.

n Caitlin Cherry, 18, who graduated from Lane Tech High School, won in the drawing category, but opted not to go to the finals.

n Loren Davis-Stroud, 18, a graduate from Whitney Young, won in the painting category.

n Monique Hickman, 17, a graduate from Dunbar High School, won in dance.

n Taylor Moore, 15, a junior at Kenwood Academy, won in dramatics and poetry.

n Andreaus Robinson, 15, a junior at Homewood Flossmoor High School, won in the Computer Science category.

n Flavian Brown, 18, a graduate from Hyde Park Career Academy, won in the biology category.

n Latreasa Collins, 17, a graduate from Harlan Community Academy, won in the mathematics category.

n Courtney Hatcher, 18, a graduate from the Gwendolyn Brooks High School, won in the music instrumental/contemporary category.

n Brian Smith, 15, a junior at the Hyde Park Career Academy, won in the music instrumental/classical category.

Carolyn Page (wife of Steven) accompanied the young people to Milwaukee, Wis. for the national competition on July 6.

Congratulations to all the ACT-SO winners, and thanks to Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn and President Vera Davis for their continued efforts in recognizing these young people each year.