Lion October 2013 : Page 6

IN THE SPOTLIGHT ONE OF US LARRY “MAD MAX” MAXWELL Every time the Parkersburg South High School football team scores a touchdown, its biggest fan bounds across the field, wav-ing the team flag and cheering fervently, bringing the filled stadium to its feet. “Mad Max” knows how to get fans energized— he’s been the school’s spirit leader for 32 years, just about the same amount of time he’s served with the South Parkersburg Lions. Although Maxwell retired from his 37-year run as an English teacher at the West Virginia school in 2011, he continues going strong as the local youth’s devoted cheerleader—and dedicated pen pal. How did you become “Mad Max”? When I was starting out as a young teacher, I wanted to get involved in the school, and I had the opportunity to become spirit leader. I love leading the teams out and getting the crowd fired up at games and pep rallies. When the movie “Mad Max” came out, the students started calling me that because I’m so intense, and it caught on. Why has building school spirit been so important to you? When I came back from the Vietnam War, I was one of the forgotten soldiers. I was welcomed home by my dad, but that was it. At that point I thought, if I ever had the chance to show my appreciation for people, I would. Being a teacher gave me an opportunity to be a cheerleader and motivator. You’ve also been a cheerleader through writing letters. I wanted kids to feel appreciated and important, so for about 15 years I wrote each of them at least four times a year. Someone did the math, and it turns out I wrote about 6,000 letters a year! The principal would give me the stu-dents’ schedules, so I would write them about their classes. I sent them home-made holiday and birthday cards. I don’t write as many now that I’m retired, plus postage keeps going up! But if I see a student in the newspaper and I want to congratulate them for something, I’ll write to them at the school. Do you ever hear from students you wrote? I’ve had former students tell me later on that they were hav-ing a bad day and when they got home, the letter cheered them up. They’ve said that it meant a lot that someone out there knew they were there and appreciated them. How’s retirement treating you? I love it. I’m doing more now than I used to being in the classroom all day. I volunteer at a historic one-room schoolhouse, and I’m an ad-junct instructor at a college. I’m doing what I can to help the Lions with the Reading Action Program. I volunteer at schools once a week and read to students. That seemed like a natural thing for me to do. Do you know a Lion who you think has a great story or deserves a bit of recognition? Email us a brief description of the Lion and the reason you’re making the nomination to Please include “One of Us” in the subject line. In his role as “Mad Max,” Larry Maxwell leads the high school football team into a stadium of electrified fans. Photo courtesy of The Parkersburg News and Sentinel

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