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Reunion Weekend 2023

Members of the "Bridge Crew" who volunteered their time to help restore the Burnsville swinging bridge.
Members of the "Bridge Crew" who volunteered their time to help restore the Burnsville swinging bridge.

The Kanawha Alumni Association (KAA) observed its 104th reunion celebration during Memorial Day Weekend 2023. Festivities for the weekend began on the evening of Friday, May 26 with the annual Burnsville School Reunion on the football field behind the school. There, the crowd enjoyed a meal and music as everyone reminisced with classmates and old friends.

On Saturday, May 27, activities kicked off with a parade that featured last year’s alumni of the year – Mike Knight, Oras Ray McNemar, and Shirley Straley Kelley – as parade marshals. The theme for this year’s festivities was “Love Can Build a Bridge” in tribute to the recent rehabilitation of Burnsville’s historic swinging bridge.

The 2023 KAA Memorial Day Weekend Parade

At the post-parade gathering, KAA President April Ramsey Boyce led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance; the National Anthem and the school song were also played. Awards were then presented to the top three parade participants: the Class of 2003 (first place), the Class of 1978 (second place), and the Class of 1963 (third place).

Later, returning alumni and friends gathered back at Burnsville Elementary School. The oldest alumni in attendance were recognized by Association Vice President Karlena Boyce; they included Lawrence Losh (Class of 1947) and Doris Hardesty McPherson (Class of 1950). The oath of membership was also administered to new members Dreyven Luzader, Michaela Cool, Robert Kelley, Rick Butt, and Roberta Knight.

The John Godwin Memorial Scholarship, presented by association member AJ Godwin, was given to Cool. The John Elmo Wines scholarship, presented by Bob Wines, was presented to Luzader. Cool also received a Claud ‘Bud’ Mick Scholarship. The Kanawha Alumni Association also awarded scholarships to the graduates. Olivia Ramsey and Lainey Hunt, both 2022 graduates and association inductees, received a second-year renewal of their Mick Scholarships due to satisfactory academic progress in their ongoing college endeavors.

Since 1994, over $80,000 in scholarship funds have been presented to Burnsville area high school graduates during the Kanawha Alumni Association annual reunion.

Alumni of the Year awards were presented to Bill Butt, Kim West, and Darrell Brown. The Heart of a Bruin Award was presented to Rick Butt in recognition of his efforts to procure materials for the Burnsville swinging bridge project.

An auction of assorted items and baskets was held before a baked steak dinner was served. All told, over 150 individuals were on hand for the Saturday evening events.

The Kanawha Alumni Association appreciates all those who attended this year’s reunion. The officers are already planning for the festivities during Memorial Day Weekend 2024 and they encourage alumni and friends to mark their calendars.

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