Red Devils take to Flinn Field for Class of 2020 graduation tonight

Barbara Layton
Looking forward to tonight's graduation, pictured from left to right: are Chase Hood, co-salutatorian;  Alecxander Gwynn, valedictorian; and Jazlyn Skeen, co-salutatorian.

The Ravenswood High School Class of 2020 has had a few setbacks and upsets this year. With the COVID-19 pandemic bringing an abrupt end to their senior school year, they have had to deal with new ways of celebrating the many milestones that have become a senior’s rite of passage.

From losing out on classroom time, spending time with friends, and extracurricular activities to delays of important events, such as prom and graduation, the Class of 2020 has learned that life can take unexpected turns that may not seem fair.

But, with everything that has happened, this class continues to show that they are resilient and up for any challenge that the future may hold.

Tonight, at 6 p.m. on Flinn Field at the Spano-Taylor Stadium, the Ravenswood High Class of 2020 will finally be able to join their classmates and accept their high school diplomas.

According to the West Virginia Department of Education, each student was given a certain amount of tickets for family and friends to attend the ceremony. The tickets must be presented at the entrance of the field. Seating will be in designated areas and social distancing will be followed.

Leading the way for their graduating class are three students who have earned the honor of valedictorian and co-salutatorians.

Alecxander Gwynn, the son of Matt Gwynn and Lynn Fox, has earned the number one ranking of his class and title of valedictorian.

Along with academic achievements, he has participated in several extracurricular activities including varsity baseball, Student Council, National Honor Society president, Quiz Bowl, Boys’ State, and Inspire Club, as well as being a counselor for Special Olympics.

Baseball is the one thing that Gwynn said COVID-19 affected the most for him during his senior year.

“I was so looking forward to our baseball season,” he said. “I thought we were going to be pretty good this just kind of ruined all that.”

Gwynn, plans to attend West Virginia University and major in aerospace and mechanical engineering while committing to the Air Force ROTC program.

This year, Ravenswood had a tie for salutatorian, the second-highest class ranking. Due to the tie, Jazlyn Skeen and Chase Hood were awarded the positions of co-salutatorians.

The daughter of Brenda and Scott Whitman, Skeen said she has always been academically inclined and earned straight A’s since kindergarten. She was excited to receive the honor of being a co-salutatorian.

Volleyball was Skeen’s extracurricular activity of choice; however, an injury to her ACL during her junior year kept her from returning to the sport for a senior season.

One thing she said COVID-19 ruined for her was not being able to finish out her senior year with her teachers.

“Honestly, I really fell in love with my teachers,” she said. “Mr. Anderson and Mr. Jones, my chemistry teacher, it really hurt me to not end the year with them.”

Skeen will also be attending West Virginia University where she will be majoring in exercise physiology. She hopes to continue on to medical school and become a surgeon.

Hood, the son of Greg and Kelly Corley, assumes the other co-salutatorian position for the Class of 2020.

According to Hood, academics and sports have always been important to him.

His extracurricular activities included: varsity football, varsity wrestling, and National Honor Society.

Hood said COVID-19 impacted him by not allowing him to finish out his biggest year of high school.

“I feel like the last few months is when all the exciting stuff really happens,” he said. “You get to look back at all of your years of just being in school, and I’ve been with all of these people for basically my whole life. I just wanted to be able to finish out the year with them.”

Hood will also be attending West Virginia University. He plans on majoring in neuroscience and then going on to medical school.

Other students in the Ravenswood High Class of 2020 top 10 include Alexis (Brooke) Whited and Molly Pennington who tied for third; Kassandra Hoff, ranked sixth; Josie Carmichael came in seventh; Emma Weekly ranks eighth; Jilliann Throneberry comes in ninth; Whitney Pifer completes the list at number 10.

The theme of tonight’s ceremony will be Letters to the World. The opening will be given by Ethan Chase followed by Jazlyn Skeen with a Letter to Family; Alecxander Gwynn will then read a Letter to Friends; Molly Pennington will present the Letter to Community/School; Brooke Whited will read a Letter to Next Year’s Graduating Class. Whitney Pifer will give the closing.

With all that the class endured during their unpredictable senior year, it is fitting that their class motto is “Closing our chapter a little differently after the unknown crossed our paths.”