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North Star Dedication Also a Rededication

 

The Dedication of The North Star School on Friday, October 22, was not only the dedication of Loudoun County’s 96th public school, but a rededication of the site it occupies.

“While this building is new, its site has long been associated with innovative education in Loudoun County,” said The North Star’s principal, Stacie Ahrens-Mininberg. “This building occupies the former site of the Monroe Technology Center. From 1977 to 2017, this facility was home to thousands of students seeking an alternative to the traditional classroom experience and a faculty dedicated to making sure they had the skills to enter the real world beyond high school.

“I spent 16 years of my educational career serving the students of Monroe as a teacher, placement coordinator and subsequently assistant principal. I am proud of the work accomplished there and even prouder that the spirit of that work continues at The North Star offering non-traditional learning paths for learners in Loudoun’s high schools.”

Ahrens-Mininberg also noted that the construction of The Star, Loudoun County Public Schools’ alternative school, was a testament to resilience.  

“It is a symbol of our students and teachers.  While the entire world shut down for a pandemic, the construction crews broke ground and built this building to open on time, in spite of delays related to the pandemic.  We are so grateful to the teams of people who worked together through that difficult time.”

Speaking on behalf of The North Star’s students, Tarynn Marlin said coming to the new building after months of pandemic virtual learning was a revelation. “Seeing the new school for the first time melted all my worries and anxiety until I was left with pure excitement.” Marlin added that The North Star’s small class sizes give its students a close connection with their teachers. “I feel empowered to ask questions and explore subjects with greater focus, knowing that my question will be answered by my teacher.”

Loudoun County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Scott Ziegler noted The North Star’s special place in the school division. “While school dedications seem common in Loudoun, today’s dedication celebrates the uncommon. Today, we renew our school division’s commitment to the concept of alternative education, a commitment that goes back more than four decades. For almost as long as Loudoun has offered alternative education, we have had to define what it is, and what it is not.

“What it is, is a path to a meaningful future and a degree that embodies academic accomplishment, perseverance and everything we describe in our Profile of a Graduate. Just as in every other Loudoun school, North Star students are  encouraged to become critical thinkers, collaborators, contributors, communicators and creators.” 

School Board Vice Chair Atoosa Reaser (Algonkian District) noted that she served on the naming committee that chose The North Star. “Metaphorically speaking, the North Star is a fixed destination in your life as the world changes around you. It’s my hope this new school serves all members of our community.”

Music for the dedication was provided by the Loudoun County High School Chamber Choir, which was led by William Rosenfeld. The Chamber Choir performed the National Anthem and “Sisi Kushangilia.”   

The formal dedication included the burial of a time capsule to be opened in 2046. The capsule included spirit wear from The North Star and Monroe Technology Academy; literary magazines and yearbooks from the Douglass School (former site of the alternative education school); a cell phone; a calculator; and handwritten letters from staff and students.  

Attending the dedication were School Board members Reaser, Ashburn District member Harris Mahedavi and Blue Ridge District member Ian Serotkin; former Leesburg School Board member Tom Marshall, who was a member of the board that approved this school; Leesburg Mayor Kelly Burk; Leesburg Town Councilman Zach Cumming; Broad Run Supervisor Sylvia Glass; and Leesburg Supervisor Kristen Umstattd. Representing the LCPS administration were Deputy Superintendent Dr. Ashley Ellis; Chief of Staff Dr. Mark Smith;  Chief Operations Officer Kevin Lewis; Executive Director, Chief of Schools Rae Mitchell; Director of High School Education Nereida Gonzalez-Sales; and Supervisor of High School Education Kirk Dolson. 

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Published November 11, 2021