At 17 years old, Zorian Ramon has dreams of hitting the big stage and touring the country singing just like one of his idols, Stevie Wonder. Thanks to the DeKalb branch of the NAACP, he’s one step closer.
“I love to sing. I’m always belting out some tune, at home, at school, all over the house when I get home from school. I know my parents want to tell me to shut up sometimes, but they know this is my passion,” said Ramon, who attends Stephenson High School in Stone Mountain but hopes to attend the Berklee College of Music after graduating high school. “But honestly, I love my music because I like to see the reaction on people’s faces. From my music, I can put a smile on their faces and brighten up their day.”
Ramon will perform this summer in Las Vegas, Nevada, when he is joined by other NAACP members, parents and other DeKalb County gold medalists as they prepare to travel to the 105th national ACT-SO “Olympics of the Mind” competition on July 17 – 20.
“We are all excited about the trip. The parents may be just as excited or even more excited than the kids. I’m so happy for these talented young people and I really hope we can take them to a Vegas show,” said DeKalb ACT-SO chair Alethia Wimberley. “This is so much more than just a competition. The kids get leadership training, attend workshops related to the career they want to pursue, meet celebrities. They’ll come back with some life lessons learned for sure.”
ACT-SO stands for Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics. The competition, which begins on the local level at each NAACP chapter, includes 26 categories of competition in the sciences, humanities, business, and performing and visual arts.
DeKalb’s gold medalists who will make the trip to Vegas beat out other talented students on March 29 at the local competition in Stone Mountain. Along with Ramon, who won gold in the vocal competition when he sang Sam Cook’s classic, “A Change is Gonna Come,” the other gold medalists are: Gabrielle Berry, who also placed gold in Drama and is a student at Stephenson, and Chelsey Thomas who won gold. Thomas attends Redan High School.
The gold medalists from DeKalb will join more than 1,200 other gold medalists from across Georgia and other chapters from across the United States to compete for cash prizes other incentives such as laptop computers at the national competition.
The ACT-SO competition is a part of the NAACP’s yearlong achievement program designed to recruit, stimulate, and encourage academic and cultural achievement among African-American high school students.
Mega-musician and producer Kanye West, actress Jada Pinkett-Smith, filmmaker John Singleton and comedian Anthony Anderson are all ACT-SO alumni.
Traditionally, only gold medalists go to the national competition. However, Lance Hammonds, who serves as the chapter’s first vice president and education committee chair, says the chapter would love to take their silver and bronze medalists on the trip as well. The NAACP is asking the community to pitch in and help pay for the trip.
“We really wish that we could take all the medalists on the trip because a lot of students just won’t see this kind of opportunity on this level again,” said Hammonds, who is also making the trip with his wife, Freda. “The trip will cost students about $1,250 each and we definitely need help with expenses.”
If you would like to help the youth group to attend the ACT-SO competition in Las Vegas, Nevada, call the DeKalb NAACP office at 404-241-8006 or visit www.dekalbganaacp.org.