MANSFIELD — In its short history, Midlothian Heritage High School has had a lot of firsts since opening its doors to students in 2014. Another first was added to that list on Saturday night, May 27 as parents, family members, friends, teachers and staff members honored its first graduating class.

Cheers of joy, applause and a few air horns greeted members of the senior class as they walked across the stage at the Mansfield ISD Center for the Performing Arts. As the students received their diplomas, they took their first steps into a future filled with countless possibilities, adventures and experiences to be enjoyed.

Senior Jessica Scheer welcomed the audience to this historic moment of firsts for the city of Midlothian and the Midlothian Independent School District. Scheer told the audience the students have worked to build a legacy at Heritage through their actions.

“I am so thankful to represent the senior class at this graduation. This graduation is very special for the Heritage High School Class of 2017. Our sophomore year we were given the option to choose which high school you wanted to attend. We all chose to come to Heritage and make it into something amazing,” Scheer said. “We came to Heritage to establish new traditions and create our own legacy. Here at Heritage our motto is 'expect excellence' and in our first year at Heritage High School, we have done just that. This year Heritage High School Seniors have done excellent things.”

Scheer stated there are members of the graduating class who are dedicated athletes that train hard to succeed on the field to musicians who create their own music to talented actors and academic scholars who have earned scholarships. All of have left their mark on the school to shape its history, Scheer said.

“The past two years this class of 2017 has shown they have the attitude to do anything,” Scheer noted. “I look forward to seeing where they all take their lives. This a is very exciting and life changing day. Thank you all for sharing this moment with us.”

Salutatorian Jackson McLaughlin shared Scheer's thoughts about the importance of the day.

“High school has been an amazing and world wind adventure. It is both exciting and sad to see it come to an end. In my heart, I still think of us as being awkward freshmen. We have come so far since those days. Two years ago we made the decision to attend a new school. That decision brought both challenges and opportunity,” McLaughlin remembered. “In the midst of these challenges and opportunities this class made Heritage High School more than just a school. For many of us, Heritage is like a family. Not a lot of high schools can say that.”

McLaughlin encouraged his fellow classmate to tackle the challenges that come before them head-on and to look at the future with optimism.

“Now that we are graduating it is time for new decisions that will affect the rest of our lives as a whole. Decide to overcome the hard times and become a better person. Our class has the potential to make a difference in the world. I am excited to see where our decisions take us. Many of us have so much to be grateful for. I am grateful for my parents especially. Mom and Dad thank you. I know that you sacrificed to give me the opportunity to be successful and grow into the man I am today. I cannot fully put into words how grateful I am for you,” McLaughlin stated. “Looking back at the last four years I have learned so much. I learned many things I expected to learn like biology, history and calculus. I also learned many things that I did not think that I would learn in school.

"For example, I learned how to adapt to different thinking as I met new friends. I learned qualities like persistence. The most difficult thing that I learned in high school was how to fail but more importantly how to overcome that failure by success. Midlothian Heritage High School has successfully prepared us for this journey.”

Valedictorian Joshua Aston Jr. challenged his fellow seniors to look on the brighter side of life and to choose happiness in the path they take in life because life is too short. Aston added that while mistakes will be made down the road, those problems are temporary in nature and are going to work out in the end.

“Researcher Matt Killingsworth said the key to happiness is to stay in the moment. He explains that when people’s minds stray they often think about the worries and the anxiety and regrets. The more the person's mind wanders, the more they worry and the less happy they will be,” Aston remarked. “There is a famous saying, ‘I have been through some terrible things in my life. Some of which actually happened.’

"Worry leads to dread and fear and that is a waste of time and energy. If you can fix it, fix it. If not live with it. We can decide how moment happens. There may be bumps and bruises along the way but most everything will buff out. Those that don’t — chicks dig scars.”

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