Just before schools closed in March 2020, Mariner Middle teacher Amanda Kilby encouraged students to enter a contest focusing on human and civil rights.
Sponsored by the Delaware State Education Association, the 2020 annual Human and Civil Rights contest was open to students in elementary through high school in writing, art and digital media categories under the theme Make the World a Better Place.
“I collected their work prior to March 13, 2020, and mailed it to the DSEA office in Dover,” Kilby said. “I had not heard back from the contest until Friday, Feb. 26, with the great news that five of Mariner’s students placed in the contest.”
Milton students swept the writing category: Topacio Pulido San Juan won first, Jesus Reyes-Soto won second, and Dylenn Enright won third place.
Topacio said he wanted to create awareness of the little-known people who played a big part during the Civil Rights movement.
“I also found certain people’s stories, like Pauli Murray, interesting,” Topacio said. “Murray didn’t just struggle with her skin color, but also her sexuality and gender as well.”
Jesus said he wrote a story he hoped would capture the same emotions felt by Milton native and Equal Justice Initiative founder Bryan Stevenson.
“In some ways, the contest wasn’t my main point for writing this paper,” Jesus said. “It was to inform people around the world of the injustice of many different people around the world, and this past year has shown it to us as well.”
In the art category, Carla Davis won second place and Kaylee Monturano won third. Carla has since moved to Maryland, but Kaylee said civil rights means that no matter a person’s race, they should get equal privileges with everyone else.
“Just because you’re African American, Asian, etc., does not mean you should not be able to do something a white man/woman can,” Kaylee said. “I did this artwork because it shows that not matter what your skin color is, that the two beings are the same. Both sides of the man are human. Nothing is different other than the skin color.”