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Despite hurdles, student Kadin Tommie succeeds through pandemic

Kadin Tommie at home with his grandmother Virginia Tommie. (Courtesy photo)

Education during the pandemic has been a challenge for some students. During virtual school, paying attention to a computer screen all day is very different from being in a classroom with a teacher.

Kadin Tommie’s grades were good as a seventh and eighth grader at the Ahfachkee School, he even made the honor roll. But when the pandemic began and classes went online, he struggled to keep up.

“He didn’t want to do online school, so he completely shut down,” said Virginia Tommie, Kadin’s grandmother. “They thought I didn’t push him enough, but what else could I do?”

Although his grades suffered in the virtual classroom, Kadin Tommie still had the desire to attend school, but in person. After he missed the first semester of ninth grade, his grandmother enrolled him at LaBelle High School. They agreed it would be the best place for him. She has a home near LaBelle and the school had in-person classes.

“I didn’t like sitting in front of a computer for eight hours,” said Tommie, 16. “I don’t like computers that much.”

LaBelle High School wanted to send him back to eighth grade, but they gave him a chance and let him finish the second semester of ninth grade if he agreed to do the first semester over the summer. He made up the work and was promoted to tenth grade.

“He is self-motivated,” Virginia Tommie said. “He just likes to learn. He has all A’s and a couple of B’s and he is on the honor roll. He even got a letter from Governor DeSantis congratulating him for his accomplishment.”

Kadin Tommie is now thriving in tenth grade. His favorite subject is agriculture, but he also enjoys welding and construction classes. After graduation, he plans to go to trade school in Colorado to learn gunsmithing. Now that he’s back in the classroom, he feels right at home.

“I like the in-person connection, it feels right. I always knew I was going to make it up. I knew I could do it,” he said.

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