graduate

FORNEY, Texas —  High school years are supposed to be one of the greatest times of one’s youth. It should be a time that includes hanging out with friends, cheering at football games, and dancing the night away at prom. But for Lexingten Phillips, high school has been one of the most challenging times she may experience in her life.

Phillips, a 20-year-old student in the Forney ISD GOALS program, received her diploma on Monday, Dec. 9, 2019 after having to take more than a year off from school. She took time off to care for her infant sibling while her mother, Guinevere, battled breast cancer.

The GOALS program is a specialized high school program designed to provide students a more one-on-one education and helps them complete their high school requirements to earn their diploma. Students in the program work at an individualized pace and can graduate at any time during the school year.

Phillips joined the GOALS program in February of this year after putting her high school education on hold to care for baby brother. Along with her other brother, a 7th grade student in Forney ISD and her grandmother, Mardis Cooks-Phillips, the three of them devoted all of their time and energy to take care of their mother as well as the baby.

Even with all of the difficulty that Lexingten has had to overcome, she has pressed on and has succeeded in her efforts to complete her high school education. Unfortunately, Guinevere’s cancer has returned and the prognosis is not good. The situation has digressed to the extent that the family had to admit her into hospice care at Faith Presbyterian Hospice in Dallas with the understanding that time is short.

Graduation ceremonies for students in the GOALS program are usually held at the Forney Learning Academy in Forney where the program is located. However, when the school’s administrators and teachers heard of the family’s situation, they made the decision to move the ceremony to Faith Presbyterian Hospice Care, so Phillips’ mother could be there to see her daughter receive her high school diploma.

“Lexingten’s struggles have been immense, and she is an awesome young lady and very deserving of the outpouring of support,” said Catrina Esters, Phillips’ GOALS teacher. “The more her story came out the more I knew we were working with a tight timeline for her to reach her goal of graduating before her mother passed.”

There has also been an outpouring of support from the Forney community as well. Latham Bakery, a local diner and bakery located in downtown Forney, is where Phillips has been completing her community-based instruction hours, while she completed her education. They are providing a meal for the family and potentially a job for Lexington after graduation. In addition, Forney Community Ministries, a local non-profit that partners with Forney ISD is working with the community to raise funds to support Phillips and her family. Donations can be made for the family through Forney Community Ministries’ website at http://www.forneycommunity.org/ or by mail at PO Box 61, Forney, Texas.

“It feels good to be able to get this and to do it...but, I have no words for this feeling. And for my momma to be here to see it…”, Phillips said through tears. “I had no idea I had this much support.”

There may not have been a Pomp and Circumstance march into the arena or a diploma presentation from the school board president at Phillips’ high school graduation ceremony. But there was something much more precious there, her mom.

Her mother summed up Phillips’ success perfectly. “You did it!”

For more information about the Forney Independent School District, contact the Forney ISD Marketing and Communications Department at info@edu.forneyisd.net or by phone at 469-762-4100.