Milton Hershey School Students Receive Medals at Regional NAACP Olympics
Milton Hershey School senior Prince Sokpo, along with several MHS students, recently competed in the Greater Harrisburg Area National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s (NAACP) Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological, and Scientific Olympics (ACT-SO). Prince was awarded a regional gold medal in chemistry and biochemistry for his biochemical-horticultural research project on microgreen popcorn and will now compete on a national level this summer.
“My research project was inspired by my curiosity about plants with the guidance of my teachers, Mrs. Grissinger, Dr. Smith, and Mr. Yonkovich,” Prince said.
The NAACP’s ACT-SO is a year-long achievement program designed to recruit, stimulate, and encourage high academic and cultural achievement among African-American high school students. Through a strategic collaboration between MHS staff and the Hershey Center for Applied Research, Prince was able to complete a novel research project and present it to Harrisburg judges in April 2021.
“We are very proud of Prince’s accomplishments,” said Dr. Smith, MHS Horticultural Instructional Advisor. “Microgreen popcorn is one of the products that the MHS Horticultural Center sells to The Hotel Hershey and Prince’s results can help us provide a sweet and nutritious product to our partners.”
The award-winning research project analyzed the biochemistry of microgreen popcorn to examine how light conditions can influence the nutritional value and sugar content of the popcorn shoots. Prince grew popcorn under a number of different light color mixtures and found two light conditions that increased nutrition without compromising sweetness. He measured the nutritional compounds by running a UV-VIS spectrophotometric assay with the help of his teachers, and the sugars by running a high pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC) assay with help from chemists at the Hershey Center for Applied Research.
“It was wonderful to be able to see Prince apply what he has learned in the classroom and see him expand his understanding to help solve real world problems,” said Kimberly Grissinger, Prince’s high school science teacher.
As Prince hopes to one day work in pharmaceutical medicine, this project helped him learn about plant metabolite extraction and the process of quantifying different plant chemicals.
“I learned so much about the light effects on plant production and the best treatments and variations of treatments that allow for the microgreens to grow efficiently in producing the best sugar and nutrition,” Prince said.
Greater Harrisburg Area NAACP’S ACT-SO
Milton Hershey School had several students compete at the regional NAACP’S olympics and receive awards for their work. MHS is excited to announce the medalists below:
- Senior, Dominique Dargan, Silver Medal for Poetry/Written
- Senior, Donna Hardaway, Silver Medal for Short Story
- Senior, Donna Hardaway, Gold Medal for Music Vocal (Contemporary)
- Senior, Lydia Dieppa, Silver Medal for Dramatics
- Senior, Prince Sokpo, Gold Medal for Chemistry/BioChemistry
- Junior, Jada White, Silver Medal for Painting
- Junior, Jada White, Gold Medal for Drawing