Like many longtime friends, Andy Richardson, Jerry Ware and Rick Burka like to give each other a hard time.
They constantly rib each other about their days together starting at what was then known as Horace Mann Junior High in Kanawha City. The three met when they arrived at the school in the fall of 1970.
But their current relationship goes a little bit further than sitting around talking about the good old days. These three friends also serve together on Charleston City Council.
Ware, a Democrat who holds an at-large seat, has served on council since 2003. Burka, a Republican who represents a Kanawha City ward, was first appointed to council in 2009.
Richardson, a Democrat, is the newcomer to the group. He was elected to an at-large seat in 2011.
All three said their experiences growing up and attending what is now called Horace Mann Middle School and then Charleston High School left a lasting impression.
"One thing about growing up in Kanawha City and going to school over here were the teachers were very good," Ware said.
Burka agreed, saying he received a very good lesson in one of his high school classes that sticks with him today. Although Burka couldn't remember the exact name of the class, he said it dealt with things like how to manage a checkbook and write a budget.
"And the teacher taught us that you don't spend more than what you have," he said.
Richardson said he learned a great deal from teachers as well as his friends in the band.
"We learned how to be disciplined and how to work and not let your band mates down," he said.
Richardson also learned a great deal from going to school in what he called a "melting pot."
Students from many socioeconomic backgrounds attended Charleston High, which was at the corner of Washington and Brooks streets in the East End. This taught him to look at problems from different perspectives. He also learned that each part of the city is as important as the next.
"I definitely want to make sure we're sensitive to every neighborhood in the city," Richardson said. "Each neighborhood should have the same level of police and fire protection."
"I agree with that," Ware said. "We want to make sure that everyone in the city is being heard."
Each of the three arrived in council chambers by a different route. Richardson's desire to serve dates back to high school, when he was student body president his senior year.
He has served in a number of ways since then. He was a member of South Charleston City Council when he lived in that city. He also served as a Kanawha County assistant prosecuting attorney.
He later worked for the former state Department of Employment Security and eventually was appointed commissioner of Employment Security and commissioner of the Bureau of Employment Programs.
Burka didn't really become interested in politics until his senior year of high school when he participated in the page program at the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington, D.C. for the entire school year.
He did not decide to become involved in city politics until after the 2001 terrorist attacks.