Longtime school volunteer: 'My wife and I look at the children at Howard as being ours'
If you attend a football or basketball game at The Howard School, you won’t see the school’s biggest cheerleader standing on the sidelines. You'll find him sitting in the press box.
George Ricks Sr. has been the Voice of The Howard Tigers since the early 1980’s.
It’s a job that he loves and takes great pride in.
But Ricks’ school spirit extends far beyond athletics.
Each morning, Ricks, who is retired, stands at the front door of the school greeting students and helping them to start their day in a positive way.
“Coming into the building, it’s just like I’ve got 1,000 little kids that are my children and I just have an undying love for them. That’s how we live our life, doing what we can do for Howard,” Ricks said.
Ricks has volunteered at the school for more than 30 years along with his wife, Maria.
The couple did not graduate from the school but their son and several family members did which is why they’re so passionate about the students who go there.
“I tell anybody, don't talk about a Howard child in front of George Ricks or Maria Ricks or you will have a problem,” Ricks laughs.
The couple gives students’ rides to school events, money when they need it and they help pay for things like ACT tests and college application fees.
“That's what life is about. Life is not selfish, and if you're given a little bit in life, it doesn't hurt to give to somebody else,” Ricks said.
Those who know Ricks say his kindness and loyalty are what make him extraordinary.
“It says something about any human being when they give back instead of being on the sidelines,” Vice Principal Dr. Charles Mitchell said.
According to Ricks, he “gets more than he gives.”
"We're not promised to be here forever. I'm 68 years old. You don't know how long you're going to live so while you're here, enjoy and be willing to give back. Do something for someone and that will make you happy in life,” Ricks said.
In addition to volunteering at the school for more than 30 years, Ricks also previously served as a Hamilton County school board member for eight years. He says he has no plans of slowing down anytime soon.
He says his wife will retire in January and will join him each morning at the school to encourage students as they start their day.