GISD high schoolers claim gold and silver at nationals

Representing Garland ISD at the national level, Rowlett High School junior Henry Dinkens and Lakeview Centennial High School senior Valissa Tate were recently recognized by the district’s Board of Trustees for bringing home gold and silver medals. Both participated in ACT-SO competition, which stands for Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics. This yearlong enrichment program is designed to stimulate, improve and enhance academic and cultural achievement among African-American high school students. Supported by dedicated and committed community volunteers who are professionals from fields in the sciences, humanities, performing arts, visual arts and business, they serve as mentors and coaches, working one-on-one with competitors in the various categories.

Dinkens and Tate’s journey began at the local level with the Garland NAACP, where they competed in painting and drawing categories, respectively. Winning first place, they were among just 2,000 students to advance to the national ACT-SO finals at the annual NAACP convention. There, Dinkens took gold in drawing, and Tate took silver in painting.

But beyond just bringing attention to Garland ISD across the United States, Dinkens and Tate also earned scholarship money. Dinkens received $2,000, and Tate was awarded $1,500.

GISD Trustees recognized both with an Evidence of Excellence award at their Nov. 11 meeting.

“I’m blessed to be here,” said Tate during the recognition. “The purple in my drawing is supposed to represent my cousin that passed away from epilepsy. My face is melting—it’s going from a light purple to a black—because that’s the pain and the anger and sadness that I might feel throughout my life. I’m keeping myself together with my hand, and the background is supposed to represent God and my family that supported me.”