Annual MLK Essay Challenge Open to Polk Students; Deadline is Nov. 1
Posted on 09/19/2023
23rd Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Essay Challenge Graphic

Polk County Public Schools and the Board of County Commissioners are inviting students to participate in the county’s annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Essay Challenge.

This year’s essay theme is “Building Communities to Help Transform Unjust Systems.” Winning students will receive cash prizes and be recognized at a dinner event on Jan. 11 at the W.H. Stuart Center in Bartow.

Essays must be received by 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 1. Essays can be mailed or delivered to:

Dr. Adrian Anthony, Senior Director of Equity and Diversity Management
1915 S. Floral Ave.
Bartow, FL 33830.

Submissions can also be dropped off in the main reception area at PCPS’ headquarters in Bartow. Students can also submit essays to their teacher or school administrator, to be delivered to PCPS’ main office by courier.

*More details:

Essay Criteria
– Essays for elementary school students (grades K-2) must be 100-200 words (no more than 200 words). Essays for students in grades 3-5 must be 300 to 500 words.
– Essays for middle school students (grades 6-8) must be 500-700 words.
– Essays for high school students (grades 9-12) must be 800 to 1,000 words.

Submission Criteria
– Essays must include a proper cover page that includes a student’s full name and grade; residential address and phone number; parent/guardian’s full name, phone number and email address; teacher’s full name and contact information; and school principal’s full name and contact info.

Essays will be judged on:
1. The relevance of material to the theme: Expound on what Dr. King had envisioned or hoped to see, and what changes you can make and/or what you can do today to promote or advance his dream based on this year’s theme/topic.
2. Composition: Is the essay on the right topic and does the essay specifically address the theme/topic? Is content organized? Is there unity of thought? Is the subject developed in a logical manner? Do the choice of words show variety, and do they avoid repetition? Is sentence structure and grammar good? Is the content creative and original?
3. Neatness: Essays that are hard to read may affect grading. Typed essays are preferred for middle and high school levels.

– Winning students will receive up to $175 at the elementary level, up to $200 at the middle school level, and up to $350 at the high school level. Teachers of students who win first place will receive a gift card.
– First-place winners will be required to read their essays at the dinner event held on Jan. 11, 2024 at 5:30 p.m. at the Stuart Center in Bartow.

– Students with disabilities needing accommodations can contact Dr. Adrian Anthony at 863-534-0781 ext. 569 or [email protected].
– Questions about writing criteria should be directed to Diane Plowden at 863-534-0018 ext. 668 or [email protected].
– Questions about the contest itself and dinner event should be directed to Richard Bradford at 863-534-6075.

Category: For Schools,News