Opp student has tea with Prince Edward

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 3, 2012


One might say that Opp’s Merrill Ann Culverhouse is going places.

The Opp Middle School fifth grader, who serves as Miss Friendliest City’s Rising Star for the Miss Alabama pageant, was among the 300 people who met Prince Edward during his visit to Birmingham as part of a national partnership with the Miss America Organization.

Miss Alabama hosted the prince for afternoon tea Saturday for this year’s recipients of the prestigious Duke of Edinb-urgh’s award.

Prince Edward is the son of England’s Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh.

The tea was held at the home of Dozier native Colby Clarke and wife, Laura.

The Duke of Edinburgh’s award is a self-development program for all youth ages 14 to 25, equipping them with confidence and skills to make a difference within themselves, their communities and the world.

Miss Alabama 2011, Courtney Porter, earned a bronze award.

“We were able to meet the governor, Birmingham Mayor William Bell, and Mal Moore, UA athletic director,” said OMS guidance counselor and pageant director. “There were eight title holders there, and Miss America Laura Kaeppeller.”

“The experience was really fun,” Culverhouse said. “I got to meet a lot of important people, including the president of Miss America and the president of the Duke of Edinburgh foundation. I got to do this because I was a rising star. Our misses got to go, too.”

Culverhouse said she got to listen to Prince Edward speak, but didn’t talk to him because of “British protocol.”

“It was at least cool to stand beside him,” she said. “They told us that he would come up to us and talk, but they said that due to British protocol, we shouldn’t talk to him.

“He circulated among us, and was very cordial,” she said. “We were not to offer our hands to him to shake.”

Culverhouse described the opportunity as “amazing.”

“It’s been a lot of fun,” she said. “It’s been a once-in-a-life time opportunity.”

This year, the rising stars, who serve as little sisters for the Miss Alabama contestants, are doing their part to raise money for miracles for the Children’s Miracle Network.

“We get to go around with our big sisters and speak,” she said. “I hope to one day compete in the Miss Alabama pageant.”

Besides being a rising star, Culverhouse has a summer full of exploration ahead of her.

She has been chosen for the CRISIS (Creative Resolutions of Impending Situations with Intelligent Solutions), which is designed for rising and current sixth graders who will build leadership and teamwork skill as they collaborate to solve a community crisis.

Culverhouse was selected based on answers to an essay question dealing with crisis management.

“It’s going to be a busy, busy summer,” she said.

“Merrill Ann is going places,” Fox said.

She is the daughter of Merrill and Susan Culverhouse.