By Shirley Shuman
Anyone visiting Braxton County High School last Wednesday would have been treated to the display of a wide variety of projects completed by 94 seniors to fulfill a requirement for English 12. Several students-built furniture—outdoor and indoor; others went for activities relating to hobbies. One student wrote a book of poetry, another reconditioned a 1971 pinball machine, and still another built an outhouse toilet paper holder. There were more; some were inventive, some were practical, and some were entertaining. All required time and effort.
Each of the projects was evaluated by more than one individual; from those evaluations, four Best of Show were selected. Kendra Lunceford’s outdoor furniture project won the top Best of Show award. In second place was Gage Vincent’s handmade rugmaking. Tying for third were Madalyn Helmick, who built a beauty bar, and Hayden Luzader, who constructed a table with swings.
Lunceford, with the help of mentor Brooks Liston, built two outdoor chairs and a table. “I chose to build the chairs and table because we have people over often and we sit around the fire pit,” she explained. As an addition to the furniture, Lunceford built a wooden Jenga game, and her table opens for storage. She added the game, she noted, “because my little sister loves it.” Luncefod is happy with her senior project.
Vincent developed an interest in rug-making after he saw the process he used for his senior project on Tik Tok. Under the tutelage of Matthew Viands, the senior used a rug gun to create his rugs. He explained that, after loading acrylic yarn in the gun, the user sets the speed of the needle. Before actually making the rug, he built a 4′ X 4′ frame to hold the rug as it developed. The frames have guides for the yarn coming from the rug gun. Satisfied with the final result, Vincent said he spent at least 28 hours on it. “It takes a lot of practice,” he noted, but he’s satisfied with his work.
Madalyn Helmick and Hayden Luzader tied for third place in Best of Show. Helmick, who plans a career in cosmetology, built a beauty bar which she hopes to use once she begins working. She chose Tina Johnson as her mentor “because Tina is very talented.” Helmick explained that her beauty bar is made of pallets and added, “I made it to fit me.”
“I saw a picture of a table with swings when I was in the eighth grade and decided I wanted one when I have a family,” Luzader noted as her reason for choosing the project she completed. With the help of Jacob Hibbs, she built a table from pine and then built swing seats to go around the table. “They’re kind of like rockers,” she said. Luzader spent “at least 80 hours” on her project, and she’s happy with the result.
Although the jurists chose these four as Best in the Show, most of the other projects showed interesting reasons for students’ choices along with dedication to finish them appropriately.
In another outdoor furniture project, Lainey Hunt surprised her mother, who “needed more furniture for the back porch,” with a double-chair bench. In addition to pleasing her mother with the bench, Hunt spent quality time with her mentor, her grandfather Bill Hunt. “Spending time with Grandpa was probably the best part of it,” she declared.
Olivia Ramsey followed in her mother’s footsteps in regard to the senior project. Of her project, she declared, “I love it” and added, “I wanted to have something to hang in my own house sometime. My mom did it [kept her senior project].” Ramsey built a wall-mounted bookshelf “for books and décor on top and hooks to hang book bags, purses, keys, and other possessions.”
After seeing a picture of a hanging gun cabinet painted like an American flag, Jeremy Gray decided to build one as his senior project. With his mentor, Dwayne Hall, he built a 24″X 37″ gun cabinet for pistols and smaller rifles. The American
flag motif appeared again in projects as D.J. Coomes made a wood flag and A.J. Godwin made a flag coffee table.
English 12 instructor Lisa Vaughan discussed the senior project requirement, students’ attitudes, and the values she sees in it. Regarding the seniors’ attitudes, she explained that they range from initial reluctance to early decisions and eagerness to begin. “Overall,” she noted, “most express that it was a good experience, and some even thank me.”
Continuing to the educational values of the requirement, “The project teaches them responsibility, time management, and to follow on what they start,” she explained. “The jury component gives them public speaking experience.” Here she said that students are “generally apprehensive about speaking to others, but by the completion of jury day, they are feeling confident and full of pride about what they have achieved.?
Vaughan concluded by saying that she hopes that students moving to the next phase of their lives, “when faced with a daunting task will remember that they have the ability and experience to complete it with confidence and pride.”
Students’ comments on their senior projects pretty well show that Vaughan need not worry. These seniors seem proud of their abilities to complete projects and defend them.