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Blue Ridge Rededicates Itself to Another 50 Years of Learning

 

“Celebrating the 50th anniversary of a building is not, in itself, remarkable. Living in an area that is steeped in history, there are many buildings just as old, or older, nearby. What makes Blue Ridge Middle School’s half century of existence worth celebrating is what has happened within these walls. No institution does more to shape its communities than its schools.”

With those words, Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) Superintendent Dr. Scott Ziegler set the tone for the 50th Anniversary and Rededication of one of LCPS’ original middle schools on Thursday, September 30. He added that the pandemic proved that the Blue Ridge learning community transcended its physical boundaries. “While the building we celebrate is a symbol of that community, its spirit and energy goes far beyond anything bricks and mortar can define.”

That sentiment was echoed by Brion Bell, Blue Ridge’s principal for the past 11 years. “There wasn’t a moment when I thought we weren’t giving 100 percent to every child, no matter what. This community of educators always speaks in one voice to raise every child up and has done so since 1971.”

Bell noted that his three children attended Blue Ridge. “It is very special to be a parent at Blue Ridge.”

Former LCPS Superintendent Dr. Edgar B. Hatrick III said that, while middle schools are an integral part of the educational landscape today, in the late 1960s and early ’70s they were considered a risky experiment with only a 50-50 chance of success.

Hatrick said the key to the success for the middle school model is, in retrospect, simple. Students got the chance to experience enhanced classes in science, music, art and physical education in middle school, Hatrick added, under the guidance of a staff invested in their individual growth. “Middle school was the blending of the best education had to offer… We need to put students before subjects. When we do that, students will do better in the subjects they study.”

Assistant Principal Nancy Griffith-Cochran introduced some of the many former Blue Ridge staff members who returned for the celebration. They included former assistant principal and principal Roberta Griffith; former vice principal Evan Moehler, who became LCPS’ assistant superintendent for Support Services; and former assistant principal Claudia Boland Sullivan, who retired as the principal of Harper Park Middle School. “They cared about every child as if they were their own,” said Griffith-Cochran.

She noted that she and fellow Assistant Principal Matt Boland (Claudia Boland Sullivan’s son) are both former Blue Ridge students, as are 20 other staff members. “We’re all Bulldogs and we’re all family. There’s something to be said for a school when that many adults want to come back. We want to give back to this community as so many gave to us.”

Also recognized were Sarah and Molly Mauck, the daughters of Joe Mauck. Mauck opened Blue Ridge as a vice principal and is its longest-serving principal (1985-2005).

Bell introduced Student Council Association officers – President Lilly Poag, Vice President Sienna Dhillon, Treasurer Julia Miller and Secretary Julia Keeter – who unveiled the rededication plaque that will be displayed in the school. (Blue Ridge never received a formal dedication plaque.) The principal noted that Blue Ridge’s students will have a celebration on May 12, 2022, during which they will display their 50-year projects.

Attending the rededication ceremony were Blue Ridge District School Board member Ian Serotkin, LCPS Deputy Superintendent Dr. Ashley Ellis (a Blue Ridge parent) and Director of Middle School Education Gus Martinez.

 

 

 

 

Published October 7, 2021