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Ahfachkee School hosts first career day

Emergency Management Department coordinator and tribal member Rollie Gilliam III, in black pants, and Emergency Management director Paul Downing (Passamaquoddy Tribe of Indian Township), in gray pants, introduce students in Sheri-Ann Armentano’s fourth grade class to the tribe’s mobile command vehicle. (Damon Scott)

BIG CYPRESS – Students at the Ahfachkee School on the Big Cypress Reservation got a taste of careers the Seminole Tribe has to offer at a career day event March 15. It’s the first time the school has hosted a career day.

Kerlande Patterson, the Tribal Professional Development supervisor in the Education Department, organized the event with Ahfachkee staff. She said the idea for a career day was to get students thinking about job possibilities early on in their school years. Ahfachkee School is a tribally run, K-12 school.

Patterson invited representatives from several tribal departments to participate in the event. Students rotated between classrooms to listen to presentations and engage with department representatives.

Those participating included the Public Works Department, the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum, the Seminole Police Department, the Emergency Management Department, the Environmental Resource Management Department, Seminole Gaming, the Center for Behavioral Health, Seminole Fire Rescue, the Health and Human Services Department and more.

Patterson said she hopes to organize more such events in the future.

Meanwhile, Tribal Professional Development is accepting applications for the Education Department’s summer work experience program (SWEP). SWEP runs from June 12 to Aug. 4. The program is designed for students who are 14-to-24 years old and can work 20-to-32 hours a week, depending on the department and program. The positions are paid.

Other programs administered by TPD include the Work Experience Program (WEP) and the Emerging Leaders Program (ELP).

The SWEP application deadline is May 12. Contact student and professional development success coach Kajir “Kai” Harriott at (954) 993-6445 or for more information, or go to

From left to right, students Tito Orozco, Liam Stockton, Zoey Cypress and Tayton Osceola sit inside the tribe’s mobile command vehicle to learn about some of its high-tech features. (Damon Scott)
Zielah Cantu examines a satchel made from an animal pelt during a demonstration and discussion by representatives of the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum. (Damon Scott)
From left to right are Emergency Management Department coordinator Rollie Gilliam III, Angelina Green, Zielah Cantu and Emergency Management director Paul Downing. Gilliam and Downing showed students some of the capabilities of the mobile command vehicle. (Damon Scott)