candice-dawson_web.jpgChildren belonging to the youth arm of the Miami-Dade chapter of the NAACP have been so impressive over the years at the civil rights organization’s national Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics (ACT-SO) competition that the program has been tapped as one of three that will receive some of the proceeds from the ninth annual Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida Orange Bowl Field of Dreams Scholarship Benefit.

The event, being presented by Publix Super Markets Inc., will take place on Friday, Sept. 30, at the Broward County Convention Center.

Morris Day and the Time will headline the show.

In their latest achievements, members of the Miami-Dade NAACP ACT-SO program brought home one gold and two bronze medals from the 33rd annual national competition held July 20-24 in Los

Angeles as part of the NAACP’s annual national convention.

Ashlee-Ann Ramsey, of Coral Reef High School, 10101 SW 152nd St. in south Miami-Dade, won the gold medal for Dance and received a laptop and $2,000 as her prize.

Candice Dawson, also of Coral Reef High, won the bronze medal in the Vocal Classical competition and James Jackson, of Miami Jackson High School, 1751 NW 36th St. in Miami’s

Allapattah neighborhood, received a bronze medal for Architecture. Bronze medalists received a laptop and $1,500 each.

Ashlee-Ann and Candice performed during the Miami-Dade NAACP’s annual Freedom Fund celebration at the Hyatt Regency-Miami on Sept. 10.

ACT-SO is a major youth initiative of the NAACP that brings together talented young African Americans from across the country to compete in 26 categories in the sciences, humanities, performing arts, visual arts and business.

Known as an “Olympics of the Mind,” ACT-SO presents gold, silver and bronze medals to first-, second- and third-place winners in their categories. The awards program takes place each year at the site of the NAACP National Convention.

The late Vernon Jarrett, a journalist and community activist, started the program more than 30 years ago. It’s motto is, “Today’s Youth Tomorrow’s Legends.”

Jarrett believed that early recognition for

academic achievement can have an immeasurable impact on a young person’s self-esteem, ambition and drive. His idea was to create a program in which young black scholars receive the same high praise as given to athletic achievers.

More than 600 students in grades 9-12 represented NAACP branches and NAACP Youth Councils from across the country during this year’s competition. They qualified for the national contest by winning gold medals in their categories during contests sponsored by their local NAACP branches. Miami-Dade students have so far won 81 medals on the national level since the program started.

Besides Ashley-Ann, Candice and James, several students won gold medals in Miami-Dade’s  ACT-SO competition, making them eligible for the national contest.

They include Tiffany Carty (painting), of Robert Morgan High School; Alexander Cedeno (drawing), Young Men's Preparatory Academy; Kervines Delphonse (mathematics), Miami Edison High School; Aida Denis (photography), North Miami Beach High School; Courtney Dozier (architecture), Design and Architecture High School; LaFae Duhaney (instrumental classical), Coral Reef High; Gemer Ellis (dramatics), Miami Northwestern High School; Tyler Fordham (instrumental classical), Dr. Michael Krop High School.

Also,  Anasé Frazier (dramatics), Felix Varela High School; Curtis Holland (dance), Dr. Michael Krop High; Patrice Joseph (original essay), North Miami Beach High; Tches Joseph (entrepreneurship), North Miami Beach High; Xerron Mingo (vocal contemporary), Miami Northwestern High; Natalia Nové (poetry), Design and Architecture High; Cassandra Phanor (poetry), Design and Architecture High.

Also, Terrence Smith (instrumental classical and instrumental  contemporary), Robert Morgan High School; Simone Sullivan (sculpture), Design and Architecture High; D’Anna Tillis (entrepreneurship), Booker T. Washington High School; Briana Williams (photography), Design and Architecture High; and Su’ven Young-Harper (drawing and painting), Design and Architecture High.

Program organizers said plans are already underway for next year’s Miami-Dade ACT-SO competition, slated for Jan. 21 and Feb. 25. Guidelines for student participation and registration procedures are being distributed to principals, activities directors, CAP advisors, department heads and other school contact persons.

For more information on the program, call Art Johnson, ACT-SO chairman, at 305-685-9436 or 305-685-8694 or visit

Tickets for the ninth annual Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida Orange Bowl Field of Dreams Scholarship Benefit cost $1,500 for a table of 10 and $2,000 for a premium table. For more information, call 305-341-4701 or visit

Photo: Candice Dawson