Prizes were provided by the Seminole Tribe of Florida

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — This week, Governor Ron DeSantis and First Lady Casey DeSantis honored Native American Heritage Month with a reception at the Governor’s Mansion. At the event, the Governor and First Lady announced the winners of the student and educator contest, which were offered through a collaboration between the Seminole Tribe of Florida, Volunteer Florida and the Department of Education. In the first inaugural contest, this year, contests focused on the theme of “Celebrating the Achievements of Native American Floridians.” Native American Heritage Month is recognized and celebrated in the United States from November 1 to November 30.

“It was an honor to host the first annual Native American Heritage Month reception at the Governor’s Mansion in recognition of the vast contributions Native Americans have made to our state,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “Congratulations to the winners of this year’s contests.”

“Florida has a rich Native American history that lives on to this day,” said First Lady Casey DeSantis. “The Governor and I were honored to host the first reception at the Governor’s Mansion and recognize the contributions of Native Americans and the incredible Floridians that keep Native American Heritage alive.”

“The Seminole Tribe plays an important part in Florida’s history and culture, and we sincerely appreciate being included in this meaningful educational outreach program that reaches students across our state,” said Marcellus Osceola Jr., Chairman of the Seminole Tribe of Florida. “We want to thank Governor Ron DeSantis and First Lady Casey DeSantis, as well as Education Commissioner Manny Diaz, Jr., for their continuing commitment to the Seminole Tribe and the native people of Florida.”

“Congratulations to this year’s art and essay contest winners,” said Florida Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz, Jr. “Native Americans have a long and rich history in Florida, and the inaugural celebration of Native American Heritage Month is an outstanding addition to Florida education.”

“We are honored to recognize these talented students and teachers who celebrated the achievements of Native Americans in our state’s history through their essays and art work,” said Volunteer Florida CEO Josie Tamayo. “Florida has been enriched by the longstanding contributions from the Native American culture and its lasting influence on future Floridians.”

Award recipients are as follows:

Student Art Contest

Student Art Contest Winners won a $100 art supplies gift card and a one-year Florida State Park pass.

Aries Serrano, 3rd grade student at Pemayetv Emahakv Charter School

Aries drew a picture titled “Author, Betty Mae Tiger Jumper.” The art features the first female chairwoman of the Seminole Tribe, Betty Mae Tiger Jumper, as she authors “The Legends of the Seminoles.”

Onnie Serrano, 2nd grade student at Pemayetv Emahakv Charter School

Onnie drew a picture titled “A New School” featuring the founding of the Pemayetv Emahakv Charter School.

Farrah Haddouche-Miranda, 1st grade student who is homeschooled

Farrah drew a picture titled “Headdress,” inspired by a traditional Native American headdress.

Abigail Shannon, 2nd grade student at Roy Allen Elementary

Abigail drew a picture titled “Honoring the Artist – Noah Billie,” featuring a recreation of Noah Billie’s artwork of an anhinga perched on a branch.

Student Essay Contest Winners

The following student essay contest winners – two elementary, two middle and two high school students – earned two-year Florida College Plan scholarships provided by the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

Dylanie Peak, 4th Grade Student at Pemayetv Emahkv Charter School

Hayden Nunez, 5th Grade Student at Pemayetv Emahkv Charter School

Olivia Hilby, 8th Grade Student at Westshore Jr. Sr. High School in Brevard County

Ellis Holzman, 6th Grade Student at A.D. Henderson University School in Palm Beach County

Prairie Stewart, 10th Grade Student at West Port High School in Marion County

Mia Gilbert, 10th Grade Student at Fort Myers High School in Lee County

Excellence in Education Award Winners

The following educators won a $2,500 award for their excellence in the classroom and for their efforts teaching Native American History.

Amy Carr, middle school educator at Pemayetv Emahakv Charter School

Jade Kayla Osceola, elementary school educator at Pemayetv Emahakv Charter School

Justin King, elementary school educator at S.S. Dixon Intermediate School

Janice Van Delinder, high school educator at Yulee High School



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