Jack Elementary alumni who are graduating in 2021 in their caps & gowns

Tyler ISD 2021 graduating seniors who are Jack Elementary School alumni returned to the campus today to participate in what the principal calls a "Begin with the End in Mind Tour." Approximately 30 seniors wore their college t-shirts under their graduation gowns and walked the hallways to many cheers and applause from current Jack Elementary School students.

Tyler Legacy High School senior Mary Ella Burlison said it was nostalgic being back at Jack today. "I felt a tremendous amount of gratitude for Tyler ISD, seeing some of my past teachers and thinking about all they poured into me," she said. "I remember when I was younger looking up to middle and high school students, and I hope I can lead by example and let them know that they can accomplish anything they set their minds to." 

A Leader in Me campus, Jack Elementary integrates the best practices from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People with strategies to develop focus, take action, be accountable, and achieve goals.

"Bringing our graduating seniors back to campus models one of our leadership goals, which is to Begin with the End in Mind," Jack Elementary School Principal Brett Shelby said. "It helps students see that they can accomplish big things. Plus, we love to celebrate the success of our Patriots, and it's fun to see how much they have grown. This is a win-win for everyone, current and former."

When the walk was over, the seniors gathered together to remember and pray for Tyler High School student and former Jack classmate Patrianna Pettigrew, who died in a car crash at the beginning of May. Her friend and soon-to-be graduate John Turman led the graduation walk holding her photo and memory close to his heart. "It felt like she should be here," he said, "It is a tragedy that we lost her before prom and graduation. She would have been beautiful for both. She was the life of every party, and she is very missed."

Former principals Shauna Hittle, who helped open the campus in 2007, and Patti Henderson were also on hand to applaud their former students.

"Now that I am here, I realize how fast it went by," Burlison added. "I hope these students cherish every moment of their educational journey."

For more information, please contact Jennifer Hines at 903-262-1064.