BRIGHTON — The entire Pemayetv Emahakv Charter School student body listened intently Sept. 6 as Chairman Marcellus W. Osceola Jr., Brighton Councilman Andrew J. Bowers Jr., Brighton Board Rep. Larry Howard and Big Cypress Councilman Mondo Tiger shared their experiences as elected officials.
The event was held a couple weeks prior to the Student Council elections and before any of the students tossed their hats into the ring as candidates. In what has become an annual rite, the officials imparted some of their wisdom to the students about their time in the political trenches. Each had ample time to share their stories with the students, starting with the chairman.
“The hard work isn’t the election; it’s the work you do after you’re in office,” Chairman Osceola said. “Be that change you want to see in your school. You are the future of the Tribe. We were all kids once, too.”
Councilman Bowers began his speech in Creek before shifting to English. His advice was clear and understandable.
“When you decide to run, you should have an idea of why you want to be on Student Council,” he said. “That’s what you tell the people who will vote for you. If you think there needs to be change, have a plan and then carry out that plan.”
He also noted that members of Student Council should always be an example for other students to look up to. He dared them to be different, since people are not all the same.
“Someone will be running against you,” Councilman Bowers said. “Don’t say anything bad about that person. Have respect for and don’t underestimate your opponent.”
Councilman Tiger concurred with Councilman Bowers.
“One thing I’ve learned in my terms in office is respect for the other Tribal members if you want that vote,” he said. “Education should be everything. You keep it with you forever and no one can take it away from you.”
Rep. Howard told the students they will be the ones to make decisions.
“You will need to communicate with other students and teachers so everyone will understand what type of person you are,” he said. “Do everything you can to support everybody. If you lose, you have to support the one who won.”
After the speeches, students posed questions to their elected leaders. One student asked what is their motivation. Councilman Tiger told the students he loves people.
“My dream is to make things better for my Tribe,” Rep. Howard said. “God blessed me to do this.”
Another question was about how long they have been in office. Rep. Howard said has served on the Board for eight years.
Chairman Osceola told the students he started running for office in 2005 and lost, won a seat on the Board in 2009, on Council in 2011 and then lost in 2013. He won a recall election for chairman in 2016, which he is serving now.
“Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get in the first time,” he said.
“I kept trying until I got in,” added Councilman Tiger, who is serving his fourth term. “If I can do it, you can do it.”
Councilman Bowers has been in office for 11 years and loves the job, even when he disagrees with people.
“I thought if I were on the Council, I could change things,” he said. “That was my motivation and still is. My motivation today is to help keep this school successful.”
2018-19 PECS Student Council
First grade – Derrick McQueen
Second grade – Kulipa Julian
Third grade – Braylen Thomas
Fourth grade – Ila Trueblood
Fifth grade – Jayleigh Braswell
Sixth grade – Merlelaysia Billie
Seventh grade – Bryce Baker
Eighth grade – Corey Jumper
Chairwoman – Winnie Gopher