6-yr-old graduates with honors despite three deaths in family

Jazmin Smith was told her daughter would most likely have educational problems and be behind in school because she was born premature. However, Ryleigh Smith, 6, just graduated kindergarten with high honors!

Ryleigh is enrolled at the Baton Rouge Center for Visual & Performing Arts on S. Acadian Thruway. Her kindergarten graduation was Monday, May 16th.

Her mother Jazmin said Ryleigh was born at 27 weeks and weighed only 1 lb, 11 ounces.

“I was told she may have educational problems or have speech problems and be behind. Well she has overcome every statistic they laid out. In kindergarten, she excelled in everything so much so that she excelled all her peers. I couldn’t be prouder. She already knows where she’s going to school and what she plans to pursue so we’re just going to ride the wave,” said Smith.

Plus, there were three deaths in the family: two great grandparents and one grandmother.

Her great grandfather, Mark Butler, died of Covid in Dec. 2021. His wife & Ryleigh’s great grandmother Angela Butler, died of heart failure in Jan. 2022. Ryleigh’s father’s mother Lisa Haley died of Covid in Sept. 2021.

“Mentally, it was hard for me but I couldn’t let her see that because I felt it would hurt her even more. I kept pushing her that they’re always watching over her from the sky. Whenever she does well, she will say things like ‘My Paw Paw Mark is watching me’,” said Smith. “She’s a strong little girl. She’s intuitive and very smart. She knows they’re not physically here but she knows they’re still here with her.”  

Smith said she’s so proud of her daughter. Despite what doctors said & the loss of three family members she was very close to, she has maintained high honors in school.

“As a young child, she knows what she wants in life and she’s going to go after it for them because she feels they’re always watching her,” said Smith.

Ryleigh plans to attend LSU to study animal science. She plans to have her own vet office one day.


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