By Jessica Farrish
Maxwell Hill Elementary School students, teachers and Principal Amanda Richmond hosted two noteworthy honorees at their school Thursday.
Miss West Virginia 2013 Miranda Richmond Harrison, a native of Charleston, visited Maxwell Hill to speak with students about the importance of respect and conflict resolution.
Boys and girls turned their heads and grew excited when Harrison, a Marshall University junior, walked into the school cafeteria, donning her title tiara.
“We all like to be kind to our friends,” Harrison told the kids. “Respect is treating others how you want to be treated.”
Both students and teachers appeared charmed by Harrison, who was clad in a black-and-gold holiday tunic and leggings.
Another visitor, though, also generated awe from the students.
Ira Richmond, 91, is a local resident and Harrison’s grandfather.
Seated in the back of the gymnasium, Mr. Richmond was gregarious and engaging. Before Miss West Virginia arrived, he regaled current school staff and reporters with his memories of being principal at MHE dozens of years ago.
“It was my life,” he said. “Twenty-eight years I spent here, and it was my life.
“We were the No. 1 school in the state for some time,” he said. “But like I said, it was my whole life.
“The kids here were just great,” he added. “They’re still No. 1.”
The principal walked to the stage and directed the students’ attention to Mr. Richmond.
“He used to be principal here, even before Mr. Farley was principal,” Principal Richmond said.
Many students gasped as they turned to look at Richmond, causing adults in the crowd to laugh.
Former principal Larry Farley retired last year.
Richmond said he was proud of his granddaughter, who has been traveling around the state speaking at schools, malls and other functions. Her platform is childhood cancer.
“She really worked hard at this,” he said. “She’ll get back in school as soon as this is over with.”
Harrison’s mother, Sherri Richmond McKinney, said Harrison was born in Charleston but moved to Richmond, Va., when she was 5 years old. She always wanted to attend Marshall, McKinney told students.
After graduating from a music theater high school in Richmond, she applied to several colleges and universities at McKinney’s urging, the mom reported.
“She went to Marshall,” said McKinney. “She said, ‘Mom, I want to be Miss West Virginia.’”
Her first bid was unsuccessful, but she didn’t give up, said McKinney.
In the second Miss West Virginia competition, McKinney said her daughter kept getting selected to compete in the next level of the competition.
“It got down to the last two (contestants) and I said, ‘Oh my gosh, she’s going to do this.’ And she won.”
Harrison is scheduled to speak at Park Middle School today.
Third-grader Lesleigh Ball, 8, said she was excited about Miss West Virginia’s visit and wanted to hear her advice on getting along with friends.
“Some of my really best friends (have arguments), but my mom tells me to stay out of it,” Lesleigh said.