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Jetta Osceola wins Jackie Robinson Breaking Barriers essay contest

BRIGHTON — In February, Pemayetv Emahakv Charter School students learned that life is about breaking barriers, just as baseball legend Jackie Robinson did when he started for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947.

By being the first black baseball player to play on a major league team, Robinson was the epitome of what it means to break barriers and change the world. PECS students took inspiration from Robinson’s core values, such as teamwork, patience and perseverance, and crafted essays about obstacles they have faced for the Scholastic Breaking Barriers Essay Contest.

The national contest for grades 4-9 had two grand prize and eight MVP winners. PECS fifth-grader Jetta Osceola won an MVP award, which came with laptops for her and teacher Michelle Pritchard as well as a set of books written by Robinson’s daughter Sharon Robinson.

“I am so very proud of Jetta,” Pritchard wrote in an email. “Jetta’s essay [is] very personal but as you read it, you can hear her playful spirit remind you that she is healing. What an honor and what a sweet blessing it was for all of my students. I pray they will want to enter this contest in the future — as many of our students are overcoming barriers each day.”

Here is Jetta’s essay:

“A Kid Who Lost Her Dad”

I have the biggest barrier that most kids my age don’t have. The barrier I have is that my dad passed away when I was in third grade. I am now in 5th grade but even as I grow older — this barrier can level me and I become one sad little girl — back in 3rd grade. Jackie’s values that I relate to and use to overcome my barriers are persistence and courage. He was persistent and courageous as he played major league baseball in a time where it seems everyone hated him. I too, have to be persistent and courageous to remember my dad and move forward.

First of all, let me tell you about my dad. My dad was funny and sometimes he was very good to us! He would spoil us by buying us some dinner at fancy restaurants. Also, he would cook us some breakfast and dinner. He cooked really well. He took us to fun places, like Disney World or a water park. He was a good dad! However, there was some bad about my dad. The bad thing about my dad was that sometimes he was not around family. He was out doing bad things like drugs. When I really began to realize that was happening and what he was doing, I was sad and mad. That would really hurt my mom, my two brothers, and me too. Sometimes he would come home late and we would not like that! In a nutshell, his drug problem sort of led to his death. He had used drugs too long and that made his body break down.

When my dad passed away, he was very sick. He was in the hospital with blood clots. When he got out of the hospital, he was fine for a couple of weeks or whatever, I don’t know exactly how long. But, then the first day of school it happened. When I was at school, he went to his doctor to see if he was doing better. Actually that day he was not feeling good and the blood clots came back. He was driving my mom’s car and he had parked somewhere close and went to sleep and passed away in his sleep. Again that was my first day of 3rd grade. It kind hits me hard each new school year. I am told he didn’t suffer – but I did. My mom did. My brothers did.

Jackie was persistent on the field. He never quit. I wanted to quit school and just move away. Everyone kept asking me questions about my dad and how he died. Many people knew he had been struggling with drugs and they assumed the drugs killed him when it was his blood clots. I really just wanted everyone to stop questioning because I was still trying to heal through the pain. My brothers were sad and my little brother really did not understand what was going on. My Mom was a basket-case and our family just really had a very hard time coping. It was a very hard time, but we had to persist and keep going. As I said, that was almost two full years ago, but it seems like it was just yesterday.

I am like Jackie in that I am persistent. Like Jackie, even though I did not want to go to school, I did. I still kept up with my work so I could get good grades and meet my goals. I am in the fifth grade now. When I am done with school, I am going to college. I want to go college for hair styling and makeup. Then my dad will be super proud of me! I also know the dangers of drugs and I will do my best to help my mom make sure that my brothers and I don’t fall into the trap of addiction like my Dad did.

I will overcome the barrier of being just a kid who lost her dad.

Jetta Osceola, center, and some of her PECS classmates hold copies of one of Sharon Robinson’s books as they celebrate her win in the Jackie Robinson Breaking Barriers Essay Contest. (Courtesy photo)
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

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