Jaxon Smith, the only child of Jason and Gayla Smith from Waxahachie, recently graduated from the local Global High School. Through the school’s accelerated academic program, Jaxon not only walked across the graduation stage on June 6 with his atypical high school diploma, but also earned an Associate’s Bachelor of Science degree in the process.
Most graduating seniors look forward to the end of their high school career, especially when their hard work culminates with a payday of sorts. Rewarded for all their determination and academic achievements, they receive money and/or gift cards, tucked away in congratulatory greeting cards, or even other gifts for future endeavors, such as a college career.
Jaxon’s heart for giving back
However, Jaxon chose a different path. He collected all his graduation gifts that he had recently received, and donated it all to what he feels is a very worthwhile local cause. In fact, over the last few years, he has asked for all his birthday and Christmas presents, as well as the recent graduation ones, to come to him by way of gift cards or cash. Deciding he had no need for gifts for himself, he chose to give these instead to a charity right in his hometown, the Waxahachie Little Pantry.
Jaxon explains, "I found out about the Little Pantry through my mother, when she went by the small business owners’ home to donate food to their cause. I was later able to meet Sonny and Kay Sides, the retired couple who came up with the idea of providing all sorts of ‘free’ food and other items to those in need within the local community. From there, we slowly got to know each other better through conversations when I would see the Sides during my trips to their food drop off location – complete with enclosed shelving attached to their outer fence, to hold all food and household items. This is truly a great place to make a difference in people’s lives. Anyone can drop off or pick up items any time they feel the need (to give or take)."
"My own personal ‘giving’ brainchild developed when I wanted to do a large area donation," Jaxon continues. He proposed to hand-deliver and post fliers in his general neighborhood asking for donations, but the Sides rejected that plan. Jaxon said it was because of the way the non-profit was operated, and because they didn’t know each other very well yet.
Undeterred, Jaxon looked for other ways to help. "Since I couldn’t carry out my original plan, yet I still wanted to do a large donation, my parents and I came up with the idea of me asking for gift cards for my birthday and Christmas," he said. "This let me make a large monetary donation to allow the Sides to go get specific supplies whenever they needed it. My birthday is not too far away from Christmas and I never felt like I needed anything in particular, so when people asked me what I wanted, this was the perfect opportunity for me to give back."
Kay Sides, from the Little Pantry says, "We are so very thankful to an amazing young man’s heart for others. Jaxon Smith has helped provide food for so many people and families with food insecurity. We congratulate him upon his graduation, as well as for his kindness, humbleness, and his bright future ahead."
Jaxon adds, "I have to admit that my parents inspired me and raised me this way, but for me I just see a lack of good and generosity in the world, and I want to help. God says that we are all meant to be equal, and we should love one another, so that’s what I try to do."
He and his family attend St. John Nepomucene Catholic Church in Ennis.
Mrs. Gayla Smith, Jaxon’s mother, says, "My son is also insightful and kind, and has taught me to look at the world in ways I could have never thought possible because of his out-of-the-box thinking. He has the kindest heart and has always championed the underdog – even if it meant him being the target of the bully he was protecting others from. All in all, Jaxon inspires me, and his father and I are both so proud of what all he has achieved in his life so far. And we cannot wait to see what lies ahead for his future."
The life of a gifted student
Jaxon has lived his entire life in Waxahachie and attended almost all of his 12+ years through Waxahachie ISD, including Marvin Kindergarten, Felty Elementary and Robert E. Howard Junior High School. He finished his seventh- and eighth-grade years via homeschooling. "During my time at Howard is when I discovered Global, and I decided it was the place I wanted to go due to the unique experiences and classes they offered," he said.
"I am so happy that I chose to spend my four years at the local Global High School", relays Jaxon, adding it was the perfect environment for him to learn. "Global was originally a STEM school but is now called an ‘Early College High School’. It is a STEM academic-focused school under the W.I.S.D. umbrella," he explains. Currently, it is one of only 91 STEM academies in the state of Texas, he says.
Jaxon says students who attend there are primarily doing so to get a head start on their college education. "The environment there is very different from any mainstream high school," he says. "There are fewer people and it is an overall calmer environment, excluding the heavy workload, of course. The smaller classes are what I believe make our school so successful." It’s also why they constantly are ranked a Best High School by US News and World Report, Jaxon says. "The people that attend Global are different as well. Most of us wouldn’t fit into the regular high school scenario. We all have different likes, interests and personalities that might cause us to be considered ‘different’ in a normal school setting, but everyone accepts everyone for who they are at Global."
"Global partners with Navarro Community College and University of Texas at Tyler to access dual credit courses that start our freshman year, to either teach on-campus or allow students to travel to the nearby Navarro campus to participate in the classes," Jaxon adds. "I am so proud that I was able to graduate with an Associate’s of Science degree in only four years."
Jaxon admits that he didn’t really have a favorite teacher at Global. He explains, "It wouldn’t be fair to have a favorite, as they have all made a positive impact on me. If I ever needed one of them to step up and help, they were always there for me, even if I did not have them for a class at that particular time. This is one of the other things that makes Global so unique. Everyone works hard to help you succeed."
Jaxon’s current goal is to obtain a Bachelor’s degree in Aerospace Engineering at University of Texas at Arlington. He says his ideal job for the future would be becoming an engineer for Lockheed Martin. But his next journey begins with college aspirations in the fall.