The Seminole Tribe of Florida is bursting with pride over their latest construction project. No, It’s not the awe-inspiring guitar hotel scheduled to open in Hollywood on October 24. It’s their brand new 30,000-square-foot Ahfachkee School built 63 miles away on the Big Cypress Reservation.
Recently the Seminole Tribe held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to debut this wonderous school for sixth through 12th-grade students. The word “Ahfachkee” literally means happy, and without a doubt, all of the 250+ invited guests and tribal leaders were on cloud nine.
The ceremony featured tribal leaders and businesses involved with the building of the school since its inception. Hope, honor, thanks and gratitude were conveyed when each person spoke.
The ceremony began with a prayer led by Pastor Salaw Hummingbird. “One of the greatest responsibilities we have is to take care of our children,” he said.
The Ahfachkee School will teach students standard subjects as well as focus on preserving the Seminole culture and the tribe’s language.
Shap-he-chek-aa-la-cho-la-kash (“We look to the future”)
“This is a proud day for all of us. We’re investing in our future,” said Marcellus W. Osceola, Jr., Chairman of the 4200 member tribe.
Pride was evident everywhere. “I was here for the groundbreaking in 2016 and today is a dream come true,” said Dorothy Cain, Ahfachkee School’s principal.
The Ahfachkee School was built to encourage learning and thinking. Every detail was picked out for a reason and every aspect of the school was planned with learning in mind. In many cases, the students themselves had a say in the school’s creation. This includes the design of the classrooms, the furniture, the technology and even the lighting.
Classrooms and labs are filled with rows and rows of brand new Apple computers. Old-fashioned blackboards have been replaced with massive screens that a teacher can write on or pull up a page from anything on Google. That day’s lesson can then be emailed to the students in class as well as those who were absent.
Great things are expected to happen at this school for decades to come. Families will embrace education, children will be excited to learn and future leaders will emerge.