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Students reap academic accolades at incentive awards celebrations

Students like to spend summer in places far from the classroom, so the Education Department gave them cool reminders of recent academic achievements via a series of summer-fun inspired incentive awards celebrations.

Students from Trail, Hollywood, Immokalee and Tampa who met one of the 15 criteria outlined by the Education Department received awards. The awards included recognitions for advanced placement classes, honors classes, “A” honor roll, “B” honor roll, improved GPA, high school diploma completion, kindergarten completion, GED completion and perfect attendance.

“We need everyone to get educated,” said Trail Liaison Norman Huggins at the Trail awards ceremony July 11. “Don’t forget where you are from but get an education. It’s mandatory in the outside world so work hard and go to school.”

Water fun, beachy scenes and even trampolines made the parties special.

Trail celebrated with a luau and pool party at Seminole Estates. Eager to jump into the cool refreshment of the swimming pool, students rushed to pick up awards.

At least one student is looking forward to next school year already.

“I like learning math,” said Billie Cypress, 10, a recent fourth-grade graduate at the Miccosukee Indian School. “But I heard fifth grade is hard.”

Hollywood students celebrated July 9 at Seminole Estates; Immokalee honored students July 16 at Sky Zone Trampoline Park in Fort Myers; and Tampa lauded kids July 14 at Jackson’s Bistro on Harbour Island.

Tampa’s only 2015 high school graduate, honor roll student Ricky Dillon, led the Tampa party. Azaria Simmons earned an “A” honor roll award and picked up an attendance award, while Maya Smith also made the “A” honor roll. Low attendance was likely due to rain, heavy rush hour traffic and the closing of the Harbour Island Bridge.

Education Department Assistant Director Brenda Gillis recognized the students during the ceremonies for their hard work and accomplishments throughout the school year.

Special projects reporter Peter B. Gallagher contributed to this article.

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