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    The Thunderbolt Rocket Club, LEF Honors, Next to Normal

    Rocketeers: The Thunderbolt Rocket Club, based at Seneca Ridge Middle School in Sterling, soared to some pretty lofty honors recently as a result of its participation in the 10th annual Team America Rocketry Challenge. In April, the group qualified among the top 100 teams in the nation, outscoring 678 competitors. At the national finals of the rocketry challenge, held in The Plains, the Thunderbolts earned recognition as the fifth highest-scoring middle school in the nation and the second highest-scoring middle school in Virginia, while placing 42nd overall.

    The team members participating in the national finals were Devin Cozzens, Bradley Dufour, Luke Ellis, Thor Keller, Chris Longo, Zainab Mahdi, and C.J. Murugapandi. The Rocket Club members also include Nolan Alexander, Charlie Bues, Nelson Chen, Shane Crowe, Zach Feldmeier, Emily Lambert, Yanni Leonaridis, Christopher Page, Elizabeth Page, Joshua Ryan, Benjamin Salley, Omar Saracevic, Deven Sharma and Isaiah Small. The club’s supervising teacher is technology educator Ronald Stocking. Gary Dufour is the team’s mentor. The club’s sponsors are the Seneca Ridge Middle School PTO and The Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association.

    For the Team America Rocketry Challenge, the Thunderbolts designed and built a rocket with a parachute recovery device that could: climb to 800 feet, stay aloft for 43 to 47 seconds and transport a payload of two raw eggs that would return to earth unbroken.

    LEF honors: Two eastern Loudoun teachers were recognized May 18 by the Loudoun Education Foundation (LEF) as top educators in Loudoun County. Lauren Gould, science teacher at Dominion High School, and Cheryl Hutchinson, language arts teacher at Seneca Middle School, were among a group of 20 Loudoun County educators honored for their work in Loudoun County schools. Each teacher was awarded a $1,000 LEF grant to use for their classwork.

    Next to Normal: The Taking Flight Theatre Company breaks new ground this week with its production of the broadway musical, “Next to Normal.” Taking Flight is the first community theatre in the area to bring the thought-provoking and moving show to northern Virginia. The play tells the story of a suburban family dealing with a mother’s mental illness related to a trauma that occurred earlier in her life. The performances take place the first three weekends in June. The show opens Friday, June 1, at 8 p.m. in the Waddell Theatre at the Loudoun campus of Northern Virginia Community College. General admission tickets are $18; tickets for students and seniors are $12. For information, go to

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