Pavilion at Shawnee Sports Complex to honor county’s Class of 2020

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Class of 2020 at nine Kanawha County high schools will be honored uniquely in the county.

The Kanawha County Commission and leaders from the county and City of Charleston announced a pavilion will be built at Shawnee Sports Complex to honor the class that had its senior year derailed by COVID-19.

“You’ve been through a lot more than I ever went through at your age. This pavilion is in honor of all of our 2020 graduates and what they’ve been through,” Commissioner Ben Salango said at the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center on Wednesday.

Dressed in caps and gowns, individual seniors from Capitol, Charleston Catholic, George Washington, Herbert Hoover, Riverside, Sissonville, South Charleston, Nitro and St. Albans high schools were present at the ceremony, spread out practicing social distancing.

Parents of the students, principals from each school, representatives from the Kanawha County Sheriff’s office, Kanawha County Emergency Management and the City of Charleston all spoke.

Riverside HS graduating senior Jenna Armstrong told 580-WCHS she is going to miss her friends and the routine of school. She said the way her high school career ended was weird but she’s putting the next step forward by heading to Marshall University.

“It’s kind of hard on us right now, obviously,” she said. “But to finally have this big accomplishment is overwhelming but I am feeling good vibes. It just feels good.”

The county announced further plans for the students. Operation GPA is a program funded every year by Public Safety Grant Funds which had a budget of $31,000 this year. In lieu of COVID-19 postponing many events for our seniors, $16,000 was allocated to our area high schools for personalized yard signs for the graduates, a release said.

The remainder of the budget goes toward public safety during this normally busy time of year.

Salango said he hopes the pavilion called “The 2020 Pavilion” is open “very soon.”