Craigsville, WV – The Richwood High School class of 2019 is brimming with success — from potential college athletes, to future educators, to wanna-be political pundits, and it’s even home to the Richwood Zoo, yes, a zoo.
The Richwood High School Zoo is driven by two teachers — Hillary O’Dell and Carry Mullens — and five senior students — Cody May, Braden Snyder, Jacob Mazzella, Isaac Amick, and Joseph Kidwell.
In the beginning, it’s safe to infer that the zoo started as an experiment regarding one creature, a Cuban Tree Frog. After receiving more information about how the zoo really began, the boys went on to say, “We found a Cuban Tree Frog outside and chose to place it in a 10-gallon aquarium. The Zoo bloomed from there.”
After a short time, the zoo would form into somewhat of a side job for the five senior students. Right now, the young men have an aggregate of 16 creatures that inhabit the Richwood High School Zoo. Quite frankly, while Mrs. O’Dell was revealing to me the names of each creature, my ears were as though they were twisting; I’ve never known about these kinds of creatures previously, not even once.
“Well,” Hillary O’Dell said while scouring her jaw, at that point including, “Our biggest Bearded Dragon is named Pap, our medium-sized Bearded Dragon is named Lee, and our two smallest Bearded Dragon’s are named Bruce and Juuls.”
In my mind, I began to quietly say to myself, “Alright, sufficiently reasonable. These shouldn’t be very hard to write down.”
But much to my dismay.
“We have a 5-foot long Ball Python, her name is Coco,” O’Dell included.
“Our Okeetee Corn Snake is named Voltron,” she stated, nonetheless, I should concede, neither of us knew how to correctly spell the name of this snake — regardless, I’m still experiencing difficulty articulating it — therefore she searched the spelling of it on her desktop computer.
She then added, “Our African House Snake is named Spike, the Jungle Carpet Python is named Buttercup, the Albino Ball Python is named Richard, the Orange Patel Snake, named Clementine; our two Ball Pythons are named Camel and Maxximus.”
Alongside those animals, the Richwood High School Zoo has a number of other intriguing creatures, such as a Uromastyx, named Gunther; a Leapord Gecko, named Gomur; a Snowmack Leapord Gecko, named Mackmomma; two Mountain Horned Dragons and three Chinese Water Dragons.
In order to appropriately keep up the zoo, and to guarantee the creatures a decent life, the five students, alongside Carry Mullens and Hillary O’Dell, spend an average amount of $100 to $150 every month, according to Mrs. O’Dell.
To most, spending that much money on animals sounds insane, however, Hillary O’Dell begs to differ.
While talking with Mrs. O’Dell about the zoo, I posed the question, “What are your thoughts about the zoo?”
“I adore our zoo,” she reacted, later including, “It’s my happy place.”
I later asked three Richwood High School students a similar question, “What are your thoughts about the zoo and what do you like most about it?”
“The zoo has helped me overcome my fear of snakes,” Lauren Lee said.
Hannah Cool reacted by saying, “It has brought a lot of attention to the school, and the Board of Education (Nicholas County Board of Education) loves it, as well.”
Another student, Kate Landreth, stated, “It’s great, it’s hands on, and it gets the students involved.”
The Richwood Zoo started as a push to demonstrate to each student and teacher that you can make inconceivable things out of any awful circumstance you might be under, as shown by the Zookeepers. With such good intentions from the very beginning, it’s easy to say that these five students and two teachers have done just that; they’ve achieved their first need, which was to rouse, educate, and in particular, comfort students.
The five seniors later stated, “We love what we do at the zoo. We wouldn’t want our senior year to be anything different than what it has been, it has been extraordinary.” After that, to close the interview, they stated, “For the zoo to continue, we are needing the underclassmen to keep up the zoo so everybody that goes to RHS will get an opportunity to encounter something amazing.”
As a senior at Richwood High School myself, I wholeheartedly extol the five seniors and two teachers for taking on such an astonishing adventure.
To conclude, without a doubt in my mind, the Richwood Zoo has started another era at Richwood High School; a time of givingness, appreciation, and cohesion within the student body and faculty.