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From start to finish, these students have seen it all at Pemayetv Emahakv

The first eighth grade class to spend their entire educational career at Pemayetv Emahakv Charter School in Brighton celebrates their graduation by burying a time capsule in from of the school June 3.
The first eighth grade class to spend their entire educational career at Pemayetv Emahakv Charter School in Brighton celebrates their graduation by burying a time capsule in from of the school June 3.

BRIGHTON — The first class to attend Pemayetv Emahakv Charter School from kindergarten through eighth grade buried a time capsule June 3 to commemorate its time at the Brighton school.
The capsule – which contains an eighth-grade class photo, students’ journals and letters to themselves in 10 years, a class T-shirt, 2015-16 PECS sports photos and statistics and The Seminole Tribune – will be opened in 10 years.

“This is a happy and a sad day,” Principal Brian Greseth told the students. “You’re more than ready and well prepared. You’ve had an amazing nine years at this school and will realize it when you get to ninth grade.”

As the students gathered in front of the school to bury the capsule, culture and language teacher Jade Osceola shared her thoughts with them.

“I look at you and see future Creek teachers, Tribal representatives, artists, writers and health care providers,” Osceola said. “You were the first; our guinea pigs. You were the ones everyone was looking at to see how this school was going to turn out. We hold our heads high because we are truly proud to call you our first.”

Next year will be their first in a large school. Many of the 34 graduates will attend Okeechobee or Moore Haven high school, which have ninth-grade classes of roughly 500 and 80 students, respectively, Greseth said.

“The people who planned this school made sure it was a public school, so you are prepared for that academically,” Greseth said. “They also made sure you learned your language and culture. The reason we made this a small school with small classes is so you can be successful.”

The graduating PECS eighth-grade class pose patiently as family and friends snap photos of the monumental occasion June 3 in the school gym.
The graduating PECS eighth-grade class pose patiently as family and friends snap photos of the monumental occasion June 3 in the school gym.

PECS has consistently scored in the top three, usually taking the top spot, of schools in the Heartland Educational Consortium which includes DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands and Okeechobee counties.

When the time capsule was securely buried, the students and teachers walked to the gym, but it was no ordinary trek. The entire student body and faculty stood in the walkway applauding and congratulating the eighth graders as they passed.

After a slide show that documented the students’ careers at PECS evoked a range of emotions – including laughter – culture awards and speeches were delivered.

“I congratulate you on your accomplishment and a mission well done,” said Louise Gopher, one of the school’s founders. “As we were planning, I wanted three things at this school; culture, language and breakfast. I knew you needed breakfast to get you ready to learn.”

Brighton Councilman Andrew J. Bowers Jr. spoke from the heart as he addressed the students.

“You’re living proof that this school does what it’s supposed to do,” he said. “From here on, things will get a little tougher, but you’ve got it. Don’t forget who you are and where you come from. With that, you can hold your head high.”

Taking all the reservations into account, the highest percentage of high school graduates come from Brighton, Greseth said.

“You can do it,” he said. “You’ve had the classes, you are prepared. Just be sure to study and do the work. I hope to see you at your high school graduation.”

After the program, students and their families celebrated with cake and camaraderie. Students posed for photos, their last as a class at PECS.
“I’m happy and sad,” said eighth-grader Alaina Sweat. “We’ve been here a long time.”

“I’m going to miss my friends and everything else,” added eighth-grader Julia Smith.

A group of boisterous boys rattled off a list of things they will miss about the school; the teachers, sports, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, friendships. But they were all looking forward to making new friends.

“I’m so proud of them,” Osceola said. “It’ll be hard for me to let them go. We are really going to miss this group.”

PECS 8TH GRADE CLASS

Alex Armstrong
Blake Baker
Waylynn Bennett
Jarrett Bert
Elijah Billie
Jenna Brown
Lucy Cypress
Will Cypress
Nyah Davidson
Kaleb Doctor
Keira French
Sheldon Garcia
Edward Gaucin
Anthony Gentry
Shyla Gopher
Robert Harris
Tucker Johns
Jacee Jumper
Tavis Jumper
Drake Lawrence
Silas Madrigal
Justina Martinez
Janessa Nunez
Madisyn Osceola
Aubrey Pearce
Caillou Smith
Julia Smith
Kamani Smith
Alaina Sweat
Dante Thomas
Jathan Tommie
Alex Valdes
Luzana Venzor
Araya Youngblood

 

PECS graduating eighth-graders receive congratulations from the rest of the school’s student body as they walk through the hallways to the gym for their graduation assembly June 3.
PECS graduating eighth-graders receive congratulations from the rest of the school’s student body as they walk through the hallways to the gym for their graduation assembly June 3.
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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 beverlybidney@semtribe.com.
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