THE 2020 NATIONAL ACT-SO COMPETITION PARTICIPANTS
There were two branches who persevered during this time of the pandemic to have students participate in the National ACT-SO competition. The participant branches were Greater Harrisburg and Philadelphia. The Pennsylvania State Conference commends them for their efforts and are elated to congratulate those recipients of the bronze medal award. They were Lunden McClain (Poetry-Written) of Greater Harrisburg, and Kenneth Moody (Music Instrumental-Classical) of Philadelphia.
Ashale Bynon (Music-Vocal Classical and Contemporary) is a sophomore attending the Central Dauphin High School. She is a returning Gold medalist. She represented Greater Harrisburg at the 2019 National ACT-SO Competition in the Vocal Classical Category. She believes that through ACT-SO, she learned a lot about having self-confidence, how to support her community and grow from the experience. She intends to push herself toward greatness, using avenues such as ACT-SO to pave the way.
Rahina Halidou (Painting) is a sophomore at the Harrisburg High School of Science and Technology. She is from Niamey, Niger and speaks fluent Zarma. She enjoys baking, drawing, and reading. She is a member of the National Honors Society. She wants to pursue a career as a criminal defense attorney.
Samiya Henry (Photography, Short Story) is currently enrolled at Bishop McDevitt High School (McDevitt) in Harrisburg. She is a “rising” 12th Grader at McDevitt and is looking forward to her last year of high school. Miss Henry has engaged in various acts of service throughout her academic career. While attending STMMS she served as a teacher’s assistant in their after-school program called A-Step. She was the first student in the school’s history to formalize this role, and she served as a Teacher’s Assistant each school day during her 7th and 8th Grade years. Once she completes high school and college, she would like to pursue a career in science and perhaps work for NASA one day.
Lunden McClain (Poetry Performance, Poetry Written) is a sophomore at the Central Dauphin East High School. She has had a creative spirit since elementary school. She started writing and illustrating her own short stories in the 2nd grade and began composing music in the 4th grade. She began playing guitar in the 6th grade. She discovered her love for poetry in the 9th grade.
Madison Stokes (Medicine and Health) is a sophomore at The Harrisburg High School of Science where she maintains a 4.4 GPA. She is the PJAS Science Fair 1st place winner at regionals: February 6, 2019 – Hershey High School. She was Awarded Distinguished honor roll award: 2019. She participated in the 2019 National ACT-SO Competition in Modern Dance as well as medicine and Health.
Her current gold medal is for her Medicine and Health study “A Snapshot of Covid-19 Cases in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania”.
Yosef Johnson (Music-Classical Instrumental) is a 15-year-old from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He is going into the 10th grade and enjoys playing the piano, playing video games, feeding birds, building terrariums, playing basketball, and many other things. Yosef has been playing piano since age 3, and he and his dad enjoy learning new songs. He attends Central Dauphin High School. He has attended and played in many piano recitals, and music has been a significant factor in his life. Yosef is now working on new piano pieces and will continue to play the piano and get better and better each day.
Kenneth Moody (Music-Instrumental Classical) is a graduating high school student who has achieved many great things through his academics, his volunteer work, and his study of music. Kenneth is one of 5 talented children, all of them who are musicians in their own right.
In his studies, he has cultivated what he considers to be one of his greatest talents; his ability to bring to others the gift of music through his playing. He hopes to encourage others to expand their musical horizons and find the same beauty in their instruments that he has found in his. Kenneth will be attending Indiana University of Pennsylvania in the fall with a major in political science and a minor in film studies. He will also continue his musical journey during his time there.
Taylor Moody (Music-Vocal Contemporary) is a rising junior at the Philadelphia High School for the Creative And Performing Arts (CAPA). She has been playing the piano at Settlement Music School for ten years. She majors in Vocal at CAPA. Music has always been her favorite hobby. The things she enjoys most in life have to do with music. It never fails to push her to work harder. Growing up, she was always pushed to pursue music and to try to be the best in everything she does in order to succeed. Taylor decided to participate in the ACT-SO competition, because she wanted others to feel the vocal gift that God gave her. Taylor’s dream is to pursue music and hopes that the ACT-SO competition has pushed her closer to her dream!
Braden Ellis (Music Composition) is a 2020 Jack Kent Cooke Award winner and co-founder of Ellis Village, a community arts engagement venture. He attends Juilliard Pre-College and has served as co-principal bass in the UPenn college orchestras. The Kimmel Center’s advanced jazz ensemble has performed his compositions in venues across the city, and as a member of NYO2, he performed at Carnegie Hall. In May 2019, Temple YCO performed “Coliphant,” commissioned for Braden—the first commission in the organization’s 50-year history.
Braden spent the summer of 2019 at the McCombs Future Executive Academy at UT-Austin, touring Iceland with Temple YCO, and attending jazz camp at Interlochen. He’s taught small kids for Science Explorers, interned with local game developers, and has been featured in ads for Adventure Aquarium and Smith Playground. Braden is a three-time Marian Anderson grant recipient, DoubleStop Foundation winner, and 2018 Bruce Montgomery Springboard Award grantee. He has been homeschooled and dually enrolled at Drexel University and his local community college. Braden will attend Harvard University in the fall.
Kyla McKnight (Poetry Written & Poetry Performance) is a rising senior at Philadelphia High School For The Creative And Performing Arts (CAPA) She is a theatre major and wishes to pursue a career in professional theatre or psychology. As a member of the Black Student Union, Gay Straight Alliance, and My Vision theatre troupe, she has participated in several extracurricular staged events. Kyla enjoys writing, performing her poetry and songs, as well as learning languages. She is fluent in Spanish and is learning Portuguese and German. Kyla chose to participate in the NAACP ACT-SO program in order to broaden her horizons and to see the black excellence that thrives among today’s youth. She feels empowered as a part of the program and is thankful for the opportunity to present her talents and hard work.
Jadon Heath (Music-Instrumental Contemporary) is a 16-year-old musician from Philadelphia, PA. He started playing piano by ear at the age of four and has been taking music lessons for eight years at Settlement Music School. Jadon is a rising junior at the Mathematics, Civics & Sciences Charter School. The person who inspires him to be the best musician he can be is Cory Henry. He credits Henry as someone whos’ music brings so much positivity and happiness that the world needs. This is also the same message that he hopes to give to everyone who listens to him perform.
Jadon is a part of music organizations such as The Gospel Music Workshop of America, Rodney Bradley & Friends Choir, The Church of Christian Compassion in Philadelphia, PA as the pianist and APhillyATION, a group of young musicians from the Philadelphia area. When Jadon grows up his dream is to make a full-time career by doing things such as performing and producing music.