Keyser High grad recognized by Chamber for artful contribution to park

Matthew Sokol
Mineral Daily News-Tribune
(L TO R) Keyser Tourism Director Ashley Centofonti, Commisioner Roger Leatherman, Commisioner Dr. Rick Lechliter and Jada Fleming pose for a photo at the Larenim Park in Burlington, June 5 .

BURLINGTON – Jada Fleming knew she wanted to make a difference with her senior project at Keyser High School. Little did anyone know how deep an impact it would have on the local community in Burlington. 

Fleming decided for her senior project this year that she wanted to add a new  element to Larenim Park.  

Jada Fleming takes in her success with her senior project at the Larenim Park in Burlington, June 5 .

"Part of the project was designed to help find a place for people to sit which would bring more attention to the arboretum," said Fleming. "I used to play softball with my cousins and I stumbled on it one day after a game." 

The project became a match made in heaven for Fleming and the residents get to enjoy a new edition to the park. 

Fleming designed a bench with the the help of her family.  Her dad assisted in the building process. 

The bench created during the senior project by Jada Fleming at Larenim Park in Burlington, June 5 .

The blue and green masterpiece now sits in Larenim Park. A wavy blue sky filled with clouds overtakes the top part of the bench. Below it, the majestic trees and bushes fill in the bottom of the bench. 

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"I love outdoors in nature and everything to do with the  arboretum is really neat," Fleming added. "I did not know it was there until I walked over one day to it." 

Collaboration with the chamber

Randy Crane, president of the Mineral County Chamber of Commerce, partnered with Fleming to get the project in gear. 

"Jada and her mom, Dixie Heavener, approached me last year after reading an article in the paper about my interest in improving Larenim Park so more people would visit," said Crane. "Jada expressed her willingness to build and paint a bench to donate to the arboretum, which I gratefully and eagerly accepted. " 

Jada Fleming and her mom Dixie Heavener stand by Jada's senior project at Larenim Park in Burlington, June 5 .

 "The end result was stunning to say the least," said Crane. "She went full speed and completed it last December.  We decided to wait for spring to place the bench in nice weather." 

Fleming's hard work with her senior project got the eyes and ears of the chamber of commerce.  

Crane noted that Keyser resident Kathie Shank donated materials that were used in the creation of two other benches in the park independently of Fleming's project. Those benches were put in the park to make it more inviting for residents. 

"It has been very gratifying to see members of the community like Jada and Kathie Shank come together to do what they can to improve the park," said Crane. "The park is overseen by the county and our Commissioners as well as the Parks & Recreation department. They have been supportive of improving the park for our residents as well as visitors." 

Education pays off

Susan Hamilton helped guide Jada as her senior project advisor.  

Even with Fleming learning virtually during the pandemic, the project still went on.   

It's not so much that we scrapped the projects but we changed the project requirements to make it easier (from a logistical perspective) ," said Hamilton. "Jada was one of the virtual students. There wasn't really any way for us to interface or interact with students in the West Virginia virtual schools so those students did not have to do the  senior project. Jada had her project started already so she went through with it." 

Hamilton knew Fleming's passion about the project ran deep. In Hamilton's class, they had an essay assignment.  Fleming wrote and depicted what the park looked like. She went into vivid detail really displaying how much she cared about the nature.  

Jada named her essay, 'The Beauty of Burlington.' 

"She was always a very conscientious student, she would ask questions if she didn't understand something," said Hamilton.  "Of all the virtual kids that I had, I would have to say she was one of the best. She absolutely maintains contact and be sure that you know she was on top of everything. She understood everything which I really had appreciated a lot." 

Caitlin Logsdon taught Fleming during her junior year at Keyser High.  The passion from her student was visible like the sun shining down on the park bench. 

"It's awesome to see that kind of stuff with students giving back to the community," said Logsdon.  "You can see that Jada did it not just to check a box, but did it because they really felt driven and passionate about it." 

Logsdon saw Fleming go the distance with the project.  

"She just took this and ran with it," said Logsdon.  "She is definitely an awesome example of what we would like to see more of. I remember whenever we first introduced it and we talked about it during the year, you could just already see her wheels turning. She was starting to think of some ideas that she wanted to do." 

Fleming plans to attend Potomac State College this fall.  She will study physical education with a focus on elementary studies.  

  — Matthew Sokol (he/him) is a journalist with the Mineral Daily News Tribune. Story ideas? I want to hear them. Please email me at msokol@gannett.com. Follow me on Twitter @MatthewSokol95