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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Essay Contest Winners Announced

Published on Feb 4, 2020

The inspiration and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. continues to live on in the hearts and minds of Polk County students who entered this year’s annual essay challenge.

The winners presented their essays to a crowd of more than 100 during the 19th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Essay Challenge and Dinner Celebration. The dinner, which had been a breakfast format program in the past, was held at the Bartow Civic Center by the Polk County Board of County Commissioners Community Relations Advisory Council and the Polk County School Board.

“It really warms my heart, to know that those young folks who participated in this event are really experiencing Dr. King’s life,” County Manager Bill Beasley said. “And they are seeing first hand, what Dr. King was all about – equal justice for everybody and the common dignity that is afforded to everybody, every human being.”

Polk State College staff members serve as judges of the annual contest, which is divided into four groups by school age. More than 100 essays were received for judging this year.

The celebration included performances by the Spessard Holland Elementary School Choir, Bartow High School’s jazz band, along with Jazmin Ghent, who is a former Polk teacher turned award-winning jazz musician.

“We are here to remember and reference a great man,” said Polk Superintendent Jacqueline Byrd. “His dedication, his tireless efforts, of changing communities conditions for living and promoting freedom for all.”

This year’s winners included:

  • Elementary School – Grades K-2 – Skyla Bryant, 2nd Grade from Winston Academy of Learning
  • Elementary School – Grades 3-5 – Sienna Hill, 5th Grade from Loughman Oaks Elementary School
  • Middle School – Grades 6-8 – Angelina Regalado, 6th Grade from Citrus Ridge Academy
  • High School – Grades 9-12 – Tru Foisy, 10th Grade, George Jenkins High School