By David Boyce
One week after Liberty North senior Daterraion Richardson began his quest to win the Missouri Class 4 heavyweight title, he headed to Lewis and Clark Elementary to work with second graders in Michele Kernell’s class. Richardson goes every day except Wednesday or when he has a wrestling meet and the teams leave sixth hour. Otherwise, Richardson is at Lewis and Clark from 1 to 2 p.m.
“I read to kids, kids read to me, and we do math worksheets,” Richardson said. “I help them with spelling checks. I look over their projects when Mrs. Kernell is busy.”
Friday, February 17, Richardson was at Mizzou Arena in Columbia, winning his opening-round matches, which put him in position to win his first-ever state championship. Richardson reached his goal the next day when he won 3-2 in the title match. He was so thrilled that he was hugging everybody, including the referee. His elation was captured on camera, and many have viewed it on YouTube.
“My mom raised me with respect,” Richardson said. “At that time, I felt he deserved a hug for refereeing that match. They took time out of their weekend to ref. I wanted to show them I appreciated what they did and what they did for me all four years.”
The principles taught to Richardson at home, and reinforced during his years in Liberty Public Schools, came out naturally at the state wrestling tournament. He is thankful for all the people who helped him get where he is today.
Liberty North wrestling coach, T.J. Goeglein, has worked with Richardson throughout his high school years.
“He has been there showing me the ropes and making sure I was ok personally, that I was always at practice, and just making sure I was good outside of wrestling, also,” Richardson said.
Richardson has encountered this kind of caring at LPS since he arrived in the fifth grade at Kellybrook. He then went to South Valley Middle School and South Valley Junior High.
Like all students at LPS, Richardson was immersed in a school district that stresses looking beyond self to help others.
This year, at Liberty North, Mrs. Taylor, who is a Family and Consumer Sciences teacher, suggested to Richardson that it would be good for him to spend time working with elementary students. Richardson quickly learned he liked it.
“I enjoy interacting with, and helping, kids,” Richardson said. “They get a lot from me being there. They’ve watched me in football and wrestling. It is good knowing I am helping them, but they are helping me be a better person.”
Richardson has the final few months of his high school days mapped out. He is giving up track this spring, because he is working at a restaurant as a cook to save up money for when he heads to Southeast Missouri State on a football scholarship. He will leave for college in mid-June and take a class to get him acclimated to college.
While playing defensive tackle at Southeast Missouri for the next four-to-five seasons, Richardson will major in criminal justice with a minor in social service.
“My end goal is to help kids out,” Richardson said. “I want to be on a FBI team or U.S. Marshal team.”
Richardson thanks the teachers he has had at LPS for preparing him for college.
“We have a lot of great teachers,” he said. “They spend a lot of extra time reading, writing, and making sure I am ready for those college papers and essays. We have great teachers at the middle school who have helped me and who have made sure I was ready to go to the next grade. That, alone, has helped to prepare me for college.”
In his small way, Richardson, like so many other students at LPS, is giving back.
“I think it is a big deal for students to give back,” Richardson said. “Not only does it look good for you, it looks good for the school, and it makes you a better person. Giving back to the community is a big deal. You are showing little kids they can grow up and do the same thing.”
No question, Liberty North has left an indelible mark on Richardson that he will carry with him for many years to come.
“Liberty North is special, because everyone cares,” he said. “North Nation is always behind you, no matter what you decide to do. It is just a caring place to be. Everybody loves everybody. They are just amazing people.”