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Brighton preschool graduates honored for ‘amazing job’

From left, Brighton Board Rep. Helene Buster, Brighton Councilman Larry Howard and Chairman Marcellus W. Osceola Jr. congratulate preschool graduate Javontae Osceola-Broughton on his accomplishment during the graduation ceremony May 27 at the Florida Seminole Veterans Building. (Photo Beverly Bidney)

BRIGHTON — Surrounded by a full house of loved ones, a dozen young Brighton preschoolers walked down the aisle May 27 at the Florida Seminole Veterans Building to collect their preschool diplomas, shake hands with tribal leaders and become full-fledged graduates.

The class of 2022 is comprised of Jeremiah Ash, Eztli Billie, Javontae Osceola-Broughton, McCoy Gabbard, Ethan Gopher Jr., Kiara Jackson, Mason Mojica, Zoey Motlow, Khodie Osceola, Bronx Serrano, Ofelia Urbina and Mia Virto.

Preschool director Thommy Doud noted that the class of 2022 had a short amount of time together in person due to the pandemic. He thanked the parents, families and caretakers for their support.

“You guys have done an amazing job,” Doud said. “It is a team effort and it wasn’t easy, but you all hung in there. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to work with your children.”

The graduation program included other activities leading up to the diploma ceremony. Together the students recited the Pledge of Allegiance in English and Seminole Creek, then they changed into costumes reflecting what they wanted to be when they grew up, told the audience about it and sang a song about growing up.

Before the presentation of diplomas, tribal leaders addressed the crowd.

“The tribe provides for all of us,” Chairman Marcellus W. Osceola Jr. said. “This is our family; take care of one another and support the dreams of each other. In 30 to 40 years, these kids will be standing up here and running the tribe.”

Brighton Councilman Larry Howard acknowledged the hard times everyone went through over the last two years.

“But you all did it,” Councilman Howard said. “Stand tall with your kids and tell them you love them every day because tomorrow is never promised.”

Brighton Board Rep. Helene Buster talked about the children’s varied personalities on display.

“That’s what it takes to make a community,” Rep. Buster said. “Help them grow into who they are supposed to be. Their personalities are out there, we just need to help them grow and let them be who they are going to be.”

After the graduates received their diplomas they posed for photos with their families and enjoyed time together during lunch.

Accompanied by her parents, graduate Kiara Jackson walks down the aisle at the Florida Seminole Veterans Building to receive her preschool diploma. (Photo Beverly Bidney)
An exuberant Bronx Serrano describes what he will do when he becomes an astronaut once he grows up. (Photo Beverly Bidney)
Dad, Pablo Virto, holds his daughter, Mia Virto, on his lap as they examine a commemorative framed photo of her as a graduate. (Photo Beverly Bidney)
From left, Brighton Councilman Larry Howard and Chairman Marcellus W. Osceola Jr. congratulate McCoy Gabbard on his graduation. (Photo Beverly Bidney)
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