When Lexie Anderson found out she would be moving with her family out of her Plymouth home, and into her grandmother’s, a house in Richfield half the size, she had little reason to cheer.
It would become clear soon enough, though, that she had found her new home.
For meeting a series of personal challenges while maintaining solid grades, Anderson won one of three Student of Integrity Scholarships last month from the Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota. The Richfield High School senior earned her $1,500 award by writing an essay detailing her life over the last two years.
Foreclosure forced the Andersons out of their home in Plymouth. They found refuge in the home of Fran Sirany, the grandmother. It took some time, however, for the home’s occupants to adjust. Sirany noted she went from “living alone for 25 years to having five people and two more dogs.” She completed the thought with a dismissive, “eh,” and a roll of the eyes.
Anderson, too, was initially unenthusiastic about the move, but was easily swayed from that mindset.
“At first I thought it would be way worse, but it ended up being the best thing ever,” she said. “I love it here.”
She was hesitant enough, though, to keep attending Wayzata High School in her former district of residence for several months. But eventually the 40-minute commute and the 5 a.m. alarm clocks became too much. Anderson made the complete jump into Richfield life when she transferred to RHS over last spring break.
It took Anderson some time to make that decision, but not long at all to realize it was the right one. That much was clear when she attended softball practice with her new Richfield teammates over last year’s spring break.
“The first day she came home form softball practice she said, ‘I love it here,’” recalled the student’s mother, Cathy Anderson.
“Compared to Wayzata it’s way easier,” the new Richfield student said. She didn’t mean academically.
“I’m friends with so many more of the people here. Everyone in Wayzata — they’re in their own little clique, and it’s not like that here,” she reported.
“Here, they’re way more friendly and outgoing, probably because of the diversity here.”
Her mother noted that also, the high population of students coming in and out of the Richfield district so often might contribute to a more accepting mindset. “I’m sure they’re used to seeing new people come in,” she said.
Her daughter never thought she would become one part of what educators call the “mobile” student demographic, and when the move was necessitated, “I was scared for her; I really was,” Cathy Anderson said.
There was more going at the time on than the move. Fran Sirany was diagnosed with cancer about two years ago. She was given three hours to live, the family says, but Sirany beat that prognosis and is still part of what has become a crowded household with the addition of her daughter, granddaughter, grandson Nick Anderson and son-in-law Craig Anderson.
On top of everything, Lexie Anderson has lost 60-70 pounds after she started shedding the weight around the end of her 10th-grade year. Firmly rooted in Richfield, the leaner Lexie Anderson has a chance to continue a legacy started by her mother.
“I was a jock myself. I was in the Richfield Athletic Hall of Fame,” said Cathy Anderson, who played tennis, competed in cross-country skiing and ran track. Her daughter plays varsity softball and hopes for an opportunity to contribute to the varsity basketball team that went to the state championship game last year.
“I actually love seeing her in Richfield uniforms,” Cathy Anderson said.
It is another new look for Lexie Anderson, part of a lesson she has learned over the past two years.
“Don’t get too comfortable with life,” she said. “Because it changes like that.”