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The official blog of the Mansfield Independent School District. To view blogs from previous school terms, please visit our blog archive.

The Mansfield ISD graduating seniors with the top grade point averages (GPAs) got to enjoy the fruits of their labor with a special banquet, and they were able to celebrate the occasion with the ones who have supported them along the way.

The top 10 scholars from the district’s traditional high schools—Lake Ridge High School, Legacy High School, Mansfield High School, Summit High School and Timberview High School—and the top five students from MISD’s Early College High School attended the Top Scholars and Distinguished Educators Banquet on Monday, May 16.

The students had the chance to invite family members to the event along with an MISD educator who made a big impact on the graduate’s life.

“It’s a very satisfying and rewarding feeling knowing that all the hard work I put in during the school year is going to be recognized,” said Jordon Drumgoole, a senior at Lake Ridge High School. “It’s a good feeling to know that you’re not in it by yourself—because when you’re staying up and studying, you feel like you’re by yourself—but you look around and it’s like all these people were doing the same thing I was.”

For the educators in attendance, it was a fulfilling experience to hear about the lasting mark they left on someone else’s life.

“I’m so happy because it validates how hard you work and also shows us that our hard work pays off,” said Yuliya Schmidt, a teacher at MISD’s Early College High School. “It makes us feel like we’re one family, and we’re working together to achieve one dream—the success of our students.”

The annual event is one that students and families now anticipate. District leaders said it is a great way to display what the MISD community already knows.

“Our faculty and staff love our students more than anything,” said deputy superintendent Dr. Sean Scott. “It’s a fun evening for us all to recognize each other and honor our graduates.”

The graduating seniors will be attending a variety of colleges and universities, ranging from Harvard and Yale to the University of Texas, Texas Christian University and military appointments to West Point and the U.S. Naval Academy.

MISD graduation ceremonies will be held May 26-28.

Mansfield ISD’s Ambassador of Education Award is given to individuals or organizations that closely partner with the district to impact the lives of MISD students, staff members and families.

This year, the designation was given to Dr. Michael Evans. Dr. Evans has been the pastor of Bethlehem Baptist for more than 30 years. He served on the MISD Board of Trustees from 2007 to 2016, only retiring to join the Tarrant County College Board of Trustees from 2016 to 2020.

In December 2020, he was named the mayor of the City of Mansfield.

With every title Dr. Evans has held, he has been a champion for education. Community members said he has a heart of giving back and serving others.

“He has still never taken his focus off of education when he took the seat as the mayor of Mansfield,” said MISD Superintendent Dr. Kimberley Cantu. “He was so intentional about really partnering with the school district, so I feel like we’re experiencing a partnership like we’ve never experienced before between the city and the school district under his leadership.”

Dr. Evans founded several organizations that work for the betterment of individuals and the community. BBC Educational Enrichment Corporation helps more than 1,000 young people throughout the southeast Arlington-Mansfield-Kennedale area with tutoring services, career exploration and summer job placement. Hope House Community Service Network assists indigent individuals in southeast Tarrant County with addiction recovery, medical services and transportation.

He also founded Historic West Mansfield Texas Community Development Corporation, an entity that encourages quality economic development of the Historic West Mansfield Community. The corporation was instrumental in the construction of Bethlehem’s Pioneer Place Senior Adult Independent Living Complex, which opened in 2019.

“He brings the community together, and his passion and excitement for kids and the community and how we can do more things to help support all the people in our village is just unprecedented,” said Michelle Newsom, MISD school board president. “He more than deserves this award. He does so much for each and every one of us in this community.”

Dr. Evans also serves on the advisory council of Tarrant County Habitat for Humanity, the Methodist Mansfield Medical Center Advisory Board and the Texas Commission of Law Enforcement Advisory Board.

MISD is blessed to have community partners such as Dr. Evans. He was surprised with MISD’s Ambassador of Education Award at the MISD Employee Awards Banquet on Thursday, May 12.

David “Rookie” Brooks is a name that rings a bell to people who knew Mansfield when it was a one stop sign type of town. He and his family have been participating in the Kow Bell Indoor Rodeo for decades.

The arena, which was located where Legacy High School stands today, was a popular stopping place for cowboys and cowgirls in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. It was the place to go for an indoor rodeo experience.

Brooks was a longtime bullfighter, protecting the cowboys after they get off the bulls.

“I’ve known Rookie and his family since I was probably 5 years old. That’s when I started going to Kow Bell,” said Chris Wood, grounds supervisor for Mansfield ISD. “They were really the first black family that was accepted into the Kow Bell, so they were very, very respected…. Rookie comes from a long line of cowboys.”

Brooks, who now works as a groundskeeper for the district, recently received special recognition for all his contributions to the Kow Bell Indoor Rodeo. He was inducted into the Cowboy Legacy Hall of Fame. The organization’s mission is to celebrate and recognize the cowboys and cowgirls and keep the rodeo tradition alive.

“I was honored to receive it,” said Brooks. “It means that they appreciate the work I’ve done—the work my family has done. And to be there in the room with some of the other inductees and people who I’ve known for years was touching.”

Those who work with Brooks said he’s always the life of the party, and they’re happy that they could learn more about his background and passion.

“He’s always cracking jokes. He’s always the guy who will make you smile,” said Mark Williamson, executive director of maintenance and facilities. “So, it’s really cool to know somebody who was part of the Kow Bell. It was a great honor to know that he was there and also what he did there.”

After work, Brooks said he still lives the cowboy life. In his 60s, he’s still breaking wild horses and loving the rancher lifestyle.

“I come to work in the morning, and then I cowboy in the evenings and go cut grass. It never ends, and I was blessed to come back to Mansfield to get a job at the district. And it’s fun to come to work,” he noted.

Although the Kow Bell Indoor Rodeo is no longer around, Brooks said he has had some of the best memories there doing what he loves—with the family that he loves.

For the Wells Family, the past two years have been especially rough. Not only did they have to navigate through a global pandemic, they had to do so while two members of their family battled cancer.

Kerri Wells, a parent at Rogene Worley Middle School, was diagnosed with breast cancer right before the coronavirus (COVID-19) shutdowns. She was able to have surgeries and go into remission; but as this school year started, they were faced with more shattering news.

Her son, Jackson Wells—an eighth grader at Worley Middle School—was diagnosed with cancer in November 2021.

“I was sad, but I just kept a positive mindset through all of it,” said Jackson.

Jackson was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma and immediately underwent chemotherapy treatments. Although he had to transition to a virtual learning environment to not compromise his immune system, his classmates wanted him to remember that he’s loved and not forgotten.

“When I found out he had cancer, that was first semester. And then, me and one of my good friends were on a walk, and I was like ‘Why don’t we just make it ‘green out’ for Jackson?'" said Presley Bray, a seventh grader at the school.

Lime green is the cancer awareness color for lymphoma.

Presley took her idea to the school’s cheerleading sponsor, Allison Blackwell. Soon after, the school was planning a special pep rally for Jackson.

The pep rally took place Friday, April 8. Students and staff members all wore lime green in support of Jackson and cheered for the guest of honor.

“It felt really good to know that they were there for me,” said Jackson. “I couldn’t believe it.”

Moments like these are why Mansfield ISD hosts Colors for Caring on the first Monday of each month that students are in school. No one should fight cancer alone, and it’s a time to show a loved one affected by cancer that they have support through the various cancer awareness colors worn.

“We have shirts, and I always try to encourage them to wear them to bring awareness,” said Kerri Wells. “I think it’s given me an opportunity to really talk to my kids about cancer.”

Jackson’s dad, John Wells, added that it’s the overwhelming support they received from friends, family and the school as a whole that kept them going in the rough times.

“Wearing these shirts, wearing these colors and things like the pep rally have been things that have really energized him,” he said as he wore a “Wells Warrior” T-shirt in support of Jackson. “Without everybody that’s been involved, we just probably would not have made it through, so we just want to thank everybody and tell them we love them.”  

The last Colors for Caring Day for the 2021-22 school year will be held on Monday, May 2.

For Jackson, it will be a celebration of some good news he received. No cancer cells were detected at his most recent doctor’s appointment, so he is looking forward to his life in remission as he heads into summer break.

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