Former Lakota West High School Principal Dick Hamilton didn’t see it coming.
A few weeks ago his former assistant principal — current Lakota West leader Elgin Card — invited Hamilton to a pre-school opening event with staffers.
They gathered in the giant main hallway — known as the school’s “Main Street” — that runs the length of the West Chester Twp. high school, which is one of the largest in Southwest Ohio.
Suddenly, recalls Hamilton, Card switched from talking about the upcoming school year to talking about Hamilton who retired in 2012 after 14 years as principal.
Card then directed Hamilton to gaze upward at a large pedestrian bridge the crosses the four-story, expansive open hallway and there a large sign was ceremoniously uncovered.
It read: “Richard Hamilton Way On Main Street.”
“I was really surprised,” said the 65-year-old Hamilton. “I didn’t know what to say, but I was just so honored. I never expected anything like that or imagined anything being named after me.”
It’s well-earned, said Card, who praised Hamilton — who took over Lakota West in 1998, a year after the school was opened as part of Lakota’s splitting its old high school into Lakota West in West Chester Twp. and Lakota East High School in Liberty Twp.
“I heard a saying: ‘give them their flowers while they can still enjoy them,’” said Card. “I think that is true, and no one deserve their flowers more that Dick Hamilton.”
“When you think of Lakota West, you think Richard ‘Dick’ Hamilton. He has been a pillar in our community and has touched so many lives in a positive way. His staff and former students both hold him in high regard. Personally, he is my educational mentor and I cherish his friendship,” said Card.
Though retired, Hamilton continues to be involved in his former school.
He is an assistant swimming coach for boys and girls teams at both West and East high schools and is a supervisor of student teachers at Miami University.
During his 14 years, Lakota West — and the entire school system — saw booming enrollment growth.
Now as many as 1,915 students in grades 10 through 12 attend Lakota West.
Hamilton credited his staff while at the school for its success.
“I couldn’t have been more pleased,” he said. “The folks that worked there did a great job.”