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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Essay Challenge Winners Announced

Published on Jan 14, 2022

Polk County’s Community Relations Advisory Council and Polk County Public Schools recently announced the name of the winners of the 21st Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Essay Challenge.

The contest is open each year to students in grades K-12. In addition to a cash prize, winning students read their essays to those who attend the annual contest award dinner, which was held Jan. 13 at the W.H. Stuart Center in Bartow.

This year’s essay topic was “The role of our youth in the creation of a beloved community.” The winners of the contest in their respective categories include:

Elementary School, Kindergarten – Second Grade

  • First Place: Silas Hernandez, Second Grade Lewis Anna Woodbury Elementary
  • Second Place: Skylar Keppler, Second Grade Cypress Junction Montessori
  • Third Place: Jimmy Nguyen, Second Grade, Cypress Junction Montessori

Elementary School, Third – Fifth Grade

  • First Place: Bostyn Angsten, Third Grade, Cypress Junction Montessori
  • Second Place: Sofia Monacelli, Third Grade, Lincoln Avenue Elementary
  • Third Place: Elaina Walker, Third Grade, Scott Lake Elementary

Middle School, Sixth – Eighth Grade

  • First Place: Maranda Ghent, Seventh Grade, Union Academy Magnet School
  • Second Place: Marwa Belfakir, Sixth Grade, Daniel Jenkins Academy
  • Third Place: Tah’Niyah Kersaint, Sixth Grade, Daniel Jenkins Academy

High School, Ninth – 12th Grade

  • First Place: Kelly Renee Granger, 10th Grade, George Jenkins High School
  • Second Place: Yaneilis Aponte, 11th Grade, George Jenkins High School
  • Third Place: Ava Winkler, 12th Grade, George Jenkins High School
If you would like to watch the award ceremony, visit the PGTV YouTube page at