At this Fort Worth high school, being top of the class is a family tradition

Valedictorian Mimi Coffey is the fifth member of her immediate family to be honored in the top of their class.
Valedictorian Mimi Coffey is the fifth member of her immediate family to be honored in the top of their class. White Settlement school district

When Brewer High School valedictorian Mimi Coffey picks up her diploma, she is doing more than graduating, she is continuing a family tradition of being top of the class.

Coffey, 18, is the fifth member of her immediate family to be honored as a valedictorian or salutatorian at Brewer High School. Her mother, attorney Mimi Coffey, was salutatorian at Brewer High School in 1987. Three older brothers were either valedictorian or salutatorian in 2011, 2012 and 2015.

Hours before a commencement ceremony scheduled for Thursday evening in downtown Fort Worth, Coffey told the Star-Telegram her graduation capped an incredible journey and she is thrilled to see what is to come for her family.

“I am beyond honored to finally be a part of this legacy,” Coffey said in a text message. She added that she is glad to have achieved this goal, which was “a great feat.” There were many steps she had to meet along the way to earn the top honor.

“I wouldn’t have wanted anything less and am truly grateful to have such passionate and caring family members,” Coffey said.

The graduating senior’s portrait will soon hang on a wall of honor at Brewer High School. That school is in Fort Worth, but is part of the White Settlement school district.

Brewer High School is the only high school in the White Settlement district. The Class of 2019 is the largest graduating class in district history with 514 students.

Senior Adam Bradley was the Class of 2019 salutatorian. He plans to attend Baylor University to major in biochemistry.

Coffey, who was the student body president, plans to attend the University of Texas at Austin and major in neuroscience.

Coffey’s father, Tony Mancil, is delighted with his daughter’s accomplishment. “Proud is obviously the first word that pops into my mind. That doesn’t remotely do justice to how I feel about this,” Mancil said. “I’m just a lucky guy to be their dad and husband. These are just amazing people.”

Mother Mimi Coffey credits her own mother’s deep commitment to education as one reason why she and her four children excelled in academics. Emiko Coffey stressed the importance of learning to her daughter. Later, she cared for her grandchildren while her daughter worked 70- to 80-hour weeks and planted the same seed in them.

“She has always stressed that we should do the very best,” Mimi Coffey said, adding that her mother was one of 10 children of a Japanese fisherman. She came to the United States as a military wife who had to learn to read and write in English.

“She has just been inspirational,” Mimi Coffey said, explaining that education was part of achieving the American Dream.

Being the mother of four high-achieving students is an incredible feeling, she said.

“They are amazing just in terms of their drive,” she said, adding that she stressed character as well as academics in her home.

“You need to be real kind and giving,” Mimi Coffey recalled telling her children.

Mimi Coffey said the family has their own hall of honor at their Fort Worth home that showcases valedictorian and salutatorian lists published in the White Settlement Bomber News. Her children have grown up jokingly alluding to making sure they get on the family wall with this distinction.

“No sibling wanted to not be on the wall,” she said with a chuckle.

Katie Silverman graduates from Southlake Carroll High School with memories of friends from her time in Parkland, Florida. Two of those friends died in the school shooting there. Instead of a party she will attend the graduation they would have had.

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Diane Smith, a graduate from the University of Texas at Austin, has been a reporter for the Star-Telegram since 1997. Smith, who has covered municipal government, immigration and education, has won multiple awards for reporting, most recently as part of a Star-Telegram team recognized by the Headliners Foundation of Texas for coverage of child abuse and Fort Worth’s Las Vegas Trail area.