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Big Cypress preschool graduates earn their diplomas

Proud graduate Loraine Jumper walks down the aisle as her big brother Andre Jumper smiles in the background at the Big Cypress Preschool graduation May 24. (Photo Beverly Bidney)

BIG CYPRESS — Dressed in bright yellow caps and gowns, the Big Cypress preschool class of 2022 walked down the aisle and collected their diplomas May 24 as family and friends cheered their accomplishment.

Preschool center manager Andrea Jumper thanked the parents.

“This is a great group of kids, you all did a great job,” Jumper said. “They are all ready for kindergarten.”

Teacher Tara Pruitt told the students how much they meant to her.

“As this chapter finishes and the next begins, I want to thank the students,” Pruitt said. “As I teach, I also learn. A little bit of each of you will always be with me.”

The graduation program began with a few songs, complete with choreography, in which the students displayed their knowledge of the alphabet as well as their dancing and singing skills. The nine graduates beamed throughout the program.

After the diploma presentations, Big Cypress Councilwoman Mariann Billie got emotional as she told the students she watched their parents grow up.

“You are making a difference, so keep being you,” Councilwoman Billie said.

With that, the students were embraced by their families, posed for photos and enjoyed lunch together.

Shayln Koenes shows her excitement on her way to receiving her diploma. (Photo Beverly Bidney)
Dressed in their caps and gowns, the soon to be preschool graduates wait patiently to make their grand entrance and get their diplomas. (Photo Beverly Bidney)
Toby Pruitt, Taezleigh Pruitt, 1, Zailani Bear Osceola and Tana Bear Pruitt in front of the backdrop the students made for the graduation at the Big Cypress Boys & Girls Club. (Photo Beverly Bidney)
Dressed in cap, gown and sparkly silver shoes, Akira Gore is all business as she walks down the aisle to get her preschool diploma. (Photo Beverly Bidney)
Graduate Harvey Bowers prepares to give a high five as he walks down the aisle to collect his preschool diploma. (Photo Beverly Bidney)

Tribune reporter/intern Calvin Tiger contributed to this story.

Beverly Bidney
Beverly Bidney has been a reporter and photographer for The Seminole Tribune since 2012. During her career, she has worked at various newspapers around the country including the Muskogee Phoenix in Oklahoma, Miami Herald, Associated Press, USA Today and other publications nationwide. A NAJA award winning journalist, she has covered just about everything over the years and is an advocate for a strong press. Contact her at