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Parents peruse students’ culture projects at Brighton open house

Open House03BRIGHTON — After a year of hard work, Pemayetv Emahakv Charter School students proudly showed off individual culture skills with handmade beaded jewelry and pens, sweetgrass baskets, dolls and patchwork designs at the annual Culture Education Open House May 23.

Arranged by grade levels, tables overflowed with dozens of creative and colorful crafts made by the students.

“It feels awesome to see them out here,” said Mariah Garner, 10, who displayed three beaded pens. “I’m proud because I finished them. It took forever.”

Parents viewed the children’s arts and crafts projects, visited the history classroom and traditional garden, and attended a Creek language class with their kids. Teachers answered questions and provided an overview of the Culture curriculum.

“This is wonderful because it shows the stages they go through every year,” said Laverne Thomas, who attended the event with her daughter, Elle, 10. “They are more intricate each year. They learn that patience and hard work pays off.”

Projects ranged from simple beaded bracelets by kindergartners to intricate patchwork pillows, potholders and backpacks by eighth-graders.

Culture teachers nurture student interests in traditional Seminole culture with hopes that they develop it further throughout their lives.

“My goal is that they take what we taught them here and build on it,” said culture teacher Janelle Robinson. “I’d love for them to carry it on from here and keep their enthusiasm for the crafts.”

Trista Osceola, 16, learned  Seminole crafts during the two years she spent at PECS and continues to create beadwork in high school.

“You see some kids working on projects after eighth grade,” Robinson said. “It’s comforting to know they still do it.”

The Community Culture Center welcomes artisans of all ages, including students, to make crafts at the center.

“A lot of kids enter the annual contest we have for Indian Day,” said Joanne Osceola, Community Culture assistant manager. “They come after school and work.”

Teachers also appreciate the benefits students get from Culture classes.

“I see how much they embrace their culture,” said fourth-grade teacher Megan Louthan. “The whole experience lets them know where they came from, and it gives them great pride to keep the traditions alive.”

Some student works are on display through Aug. 25 in an exhibit at the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum.


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