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Education incentives awarded to Brighton, Big Cypress students

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Bakari Micco, of Okeechobee High School, honored for a GPA of 3.0 to 3.75 and for succeeding in honors classes, boasts a No. 1 sign during the incentive awards celebration on Brighton Reservation.

McKayla Snow, of Brighton Reservation, always looks forward to a guaranteed rush of personal pride she receives every summer thanks to the Tribe’s Education Department incentive awards.

“It’s not just me who feels it. It’s every student who hears their name called and then hears everyone cheering for them because they did a good job at school,” McKayla said minutes after she was honored with a certificate of recognition in front of nearly 100 Brighton residents for recently graduating from Okeechobee High School.

This year, Brighton students were lauded for school achievements by the Education Department with certificates, new backpacks and a home-style chicken and hamburger dinner Aug. 13 at the new Pemayetv Emahakv Charter School gymnasium. Days later, the department congratulated students from Big Cypress Reservation with certificates, backpacks and a Saturday afternoon meal of hamburgers, hot dogs, subs and chicken tenders at the Herman L. Osceola Gymnasium.

Awards were provided to students at Trail, Immokalee, Tampa and Hollywood in July.

Honored students met at least one of 15 goals required by the department for recognition. The criteria included advanced placement classes, honors classes, “A” honor roll, “B” honor roll and one of three GPA ranges from 3.0 to 4.0 or higher. Certificates also went to students who completed kindergarten, earned a high school diploma, secured a GED or had perfect attendance.

At Brighton, Councilman Andrew J. Bowers Jr. praised the students.

“This is your night to shine. Congratulations for all your hard work last year,” Councilman Bowers said.

But he also advised the children that their work is not done – nor are their opportunities for rewards.

“As you go on in life, you will find out that you have to do your best day in and day out and that you will be rewarded with a job someday that you like and you want to do,” he said. “If you get it together now the rewards will come, I guarantee it.”

Brenda Gillis, Education Department assistant director, distributed awards with help from former Brighton adviser Vickie Stuart and Brighton’s cultural events specialist Lewis Gopher.

In Big Cypress, Councilman Cicero Osceola and Gillis handed out certificates.

“Congratulations on the awards,” Councilman Osceola said. “As the new year begins, reach for your goals. We will continue to support our students with every resource we have.”

Gillis said both events, hosted just days before the first day of school, were held just in time to support back-to-school momentum.

“We’re not only celebrating accomplishments from last year, but we are looking forward to the coming year,” Gillis said.

Nancy Jimmie, PECS softball coach, said children love the attention. Her daughter Miley Jimmie won a certificate for excellence in education and overall achievement.

“I know Miley works so hard at school, so she likes it when she is recognized,” Jimmie said. “It’s not everywhere that the community comes out to show such support.”

Staff reporter Beverly Bidney contributed to this report.

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