City of Victorville and Victor Elementary School District Announce Winner of Annual Civil Rights Essay Contest

Left to Right: Teacher Jaely Meeks (6th grade), Principal Conor Devlin, Penelope Trylch, Sienna Escamilla (Penelope’s mother), and Mayor Garcia

By Staff Reports

(Victorville)– Sixth graders at Galileo School of Gifted and Talented Education received an unexpected visit from Victorville Mayor, Gloria Garcia last Wednesday, Nov. 28.  Mayor Garcia was on campus to surprise the student winner of Victorville’s Civil Rights Essay Contest.

While enjoying lunch with peers, Penelope Trylch was unaware that her family and friends were waiting in the wings as Mayor Garcia announced that she had won the essay competition.  Penelope’s essay about Civil Rights Leader, Harriet Tubman was selected from a myriad of essays submitted by students in the Victor Elementary School District.  A portion of her essay will be displayed on a plaque honoring Harriet Tubman in the City of Victorville’s Civil Rights Memorial located at City Hall.  The plaque will be unveiled at a ceremony planned for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Jan. 21.

“Penelope wrote in her essay that Harriet Tubman ‘inspired her to dream today while developing a heart strong enough to blaze her own trail tomorrow,’” remarked Mayor Garcia.  “This inspiration and Penelope’s personal courage will lead her to make a positive change in our world.”

“We are very proud of Penelope for choosing to ‘honor and remember’ the sacrifices made by Harriet Tubman to secure freedom for oppressed African slaves with her essay,” said Galileo Academy Principal, Conor Devlin.  “I would like to thank the City of Victorville for providing our students a platform that encourages historical research of American social justice and civil rights leaders whose actions laid the foundation to improve the lives of millions throughout the United States.”

Mayor Garcia also praised Penelope’s teacher, Jaely Meeks.  For the second year-in-a-row, the essay winner was one of Mrs. Meek’s students.  “You are doing it right, Mrs. Meeks; and thank you!,” said Garcia.

A full-length version of Penelope’s winning essay will be published on the City of Victorville website at

A special thank you to Dreamers, Visionaries & Leaders Project and Desert Valley Hospital & Medical Group, for sponsoring this year’s bronze plaque honoring Harriet Tubman.  All of the plaques displayed in the City of Victorville’s Civil Rights Memorial were funded through the generous contributions of local businesses and organizations.  The plaques make it possible for future generations to see, honor and remember the sacrifices and triumphs of America’s Civil Rights Leaders.

For more information about the Memorial including sponsorship information, contact (760) 955-3306 or send an email


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