4/23/2014 6:00:00 AM Senior project to benefit playground
The planning committee for the Neshoba Central Class of 2014 project includes seniors, front, from left, Ben Pace, Hannah Ward, Nekkita Beans, Rebekah Watson and Matthew Turcotte. In back is Ken Edwards. The class raised $2,000 to go toward repairing the Imagination Fun Station at Northside Park.
By STEVEN THOMAS Staff Reporter
Members of the Neshoba Central High School Class of 2014 are planning to renovate the Imagination Fun Station at Northside Park on May 3 and have raised $2,000 to do it.
Rebekah Watson, the valedictorian of the Class of 2014, was the mastermind of the project.
"Since last summer, I've wanted to renovate the Fun Station," she said, noting that there was no money earmarked for repairs leading to its deterioration.
"There's no tire swing and the sandbox scoop is broken. We want to get it back to a good condition."
Watson remembered when her mother, Sewanna, was a member of Junior Auxiliary, which helped build the Fun Station along with many others in October of 2000. Watson was four-years-old at the time.
She recalled going out there a lot to play.
"It has fallen apart in places and at one point it was considered too dangerous to go out there," she said.
During the summer before her senior year began, Watson returned to the playground and looked around. That's when she got the idea to renovate.
She discussed the project with NCHS Principal John Bowen.
"I thought it was an excellent idea," he said. "It's great to see students getting involved in community projects."
Bowen noted that the students already had a plan and timeline and all they needed from him were contacts.
"I'm glad they took the initiative," he said.
Watson next needed the support of her classmates.
She gathered a committee of six people, including herself, to head the project.
Other members include: Nekkita Beans, Ben Pace, Matthew Turcotte, Hannah Ward and Ken Edwards.
"I tried to pick people that could reach into different branches of the school," Watson said. "Ben is in the band, Hannah is in the FFA, Matthew and Ken are on the football team and Nekkita works on the website.
"They were very excited and willing to help. I couldn't have done it without them."
After the committee was established, they concentrated on raising funds by sponsoring several events including a raffle during homecoming, a car wash in the fall and selling candy before and during Christmas.
Watson noted that the car wash made the most money and it was helped along by a bake sale on the same day.
"Me, Hannah and Nekkita stayed up all night baking brownies, rice crispy treats and cake pops," she said.
Of the 160 members of the Class of 2014, Watson noted, about half helped out.
Watson said some of her classmates needed some convincing before they would sign on.
"It took some explaining but eventually they understood the need for this," she said.
Nekkita Beans said she was excited to be asked.
"It's great to give back to the community," she said. "It's so exciting."
The group also received assistance from members of the school administration, such as English teacher Tabby Winstead who helped keep up with the money raised, and members of the Park Commission, who helped with prioritizing the repairs.
"They [the Park Commission] were very happy that we were doing this," Watson said.
Park Director Chris Burt said he was glad the students were giving of their time.
He recalled Watson's mother working on the playground 14 years ago and how Watson would imitate her mother while she was working.
"It makes me happy that they still have such an interest in the park and want to fix it up," he said.
Burt noted that the park only has so much money that can go toward repairs.
The last repairs came several years ago when extra money from the original building fund was discovered, he said.
"Any more funds from repairs would have to come from someone else," Burt said.
After all the fundraising, the students raised around $2,000 to fund the renovation.
Watson said they would have adult supervision so everything is done correctly.
"I hope a lot of seniors come out," she said.
In the end, Watson and others involved in the project hope that the idea for a senior project catches on, especially with the incoming seniors.
"Doing any kind of project shows initiative and responsibility," she said.