By Brandi Underwood
The buckskin-clad WVU Mountaineer made a trip to Raleigh County Monday to talk to Park Middle School students about the importance of education, his role as the school mascot, and to just rile up a little blue and gold spirit.
Jonathan Kimble first met with teacher Sherri Shumate’s students for a classroom appearance, walking the kids through the ins and outs of his uniform, from his racoon-skin hat to his Kentucky Long Rifle and powder horn.
Students whipped out their iPads to capture each word he said. Later, they passed their iPads around and snapped photos of each other posing with the Mountaineer.
While his beard, attire and travels were all popular topics of conversation, current WVU graduate student and 62nd/63rd Mountaineer mascot Kimble had bigger things to discuss with students.
He gave the student body a few tips to pave a successful road for themselves through school and through life.
First and foremost, Kimble told students to listen to their teachers.
“Just like you guys, I’m a student too,” Kimble said. “I go to class, I take tests and I listen to my teachers.
“If you guys listen to your teachers now, come to class and respect them, you’ll do a lot better,” he said.
The Mountaineer’s second point rang loud and clear across the auditorium.
“Don’t be a bully,” he said. “You should never make fun of people because they’re different.”
Kimble dared the children to be different and to not let bullies affect them.
He also encouraged kids to be persistent and not give up on their goals, explaining he became the Mountaineer on his third attempt after he was rejected the first two years he applied.
“If I would have given up, I wouldn’t be here today,” he said. “Go after your dreams. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t, because you can.”
Kimble pumped up the crowd with the “Let’s go! ... Mountaineers!” cheer, and one boy was selected from the student body to do side-by-side push-ups with the Mountaineer.
After the speaking appearance, it’s safe to say that many students left the auditorium newly enthused about their education and prospects for their futures.
“He gets to go everywhere and he actually carries gunpowder,” sixth-grader Caleb Hockett said. “It’s awesome.”
“I always wanted to play on the football team for WVU,” Hockett said, adding that he definitely will be trying a little harder in school now that he knows what it takes to get to college.
“It’s an honor to be a role model to the kids and someone they look up to,” Kimble said. “I want these kids to have a bright future.”
Kimble said he tries to instill values in kids through his speaking appearances that perpetuate a common understanding:
“We’re all Mountaineers. We’re proud that we’re from West Virginia. We’re happy, hardworking people and we want to help everyone out. We don’t make fun of people, and we want to go to WVU,” he said.
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