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A monument to progress: Community dedicates renovated Ashburn Colored School

The Ashburn Colored School was in service from 1892-1957, serving students from elementary through high school. It was recently renovated through an initiative by Dr. Deep Sran, director of the Loudoun School for the Gifted. Times-Mirror/Karen Graham
For years, people drove by the abandoned Ashburn Colored School building on Ashburn Road -- a historic school that served students from 1892 through 1957 -- and had no idea of its historic significance.

That all changed when it was vandalized by a group of teenagers in the fall of 2016 with drawings of swastikas, “white power” and crude pictures – a defacing that garnered national media attention.

A restoration project was quickly spearheaded by the Loudoun School of the Gifted's director, Dr. Deep Sran, who had purchased the land in 2014 to build a new school and restore the old schoolhouse.

Within a week of launching the restoration project, organizers raised $100,000 to restore the school, and hundreds of volunteers donated their time to complete the renovation. The vandalism, it turned out, kick-started the capital needed for the restoration.

On Saturday, nearly one year since the vandalism, local civic leaders, former students and members of the interfaith community gathered to dedicate and formally unveil the restored school.

“What I saw in the community in the weeks and months following the vandalism made us who we are now. It is a monument as to how far we have come and a monument to what we can do together when we commit to work for our children. This is a place where we choose the future,” Sran said.

Rev. Michelle Thomas, of Holy and Whole Life Changing Ministries, led the interfaith service.

“The day the Ashburn school was vandalized we all got our voices back,” Rev. Thomas said.

Rev. Alfonso Harrod, brother of the late Lola Jackson, the last teacher at the Ashburn Colored School, captured the spirit of the day with his remarks and singing. He said his sister traveled from Washington, D.C. everyday for over 20 years to teach at the school.

Attorney General Mark Herring (D), a Loudoun County resident, said the day afforded “the opportunity to reflect and remember the brave individuals who worked so hard to protect the children's education. We can take pride in knowing together we are moving toward equality, justice and opportunity for everyone.”

Several students who attended the school were at Saturday's event, including Dorothy Carpenter, who presented her original certificate of promotion from seventh to eighth grade, signed by Ms. Lola Jackson.

“It was a joy and a blessing to have her as a teacher,” Carpenter said.

Donna Bohanon, chairwoman of the Black History Committee at Thomas Balch Library, said the day provided a reminder of “unity, equality, and understanding who we are in moving forward.”

A historical marker was dedicated earlier this year at the school as the result of the work of a group of seventh grade middle school students from Farmwell Station Middle School.

The Ashburn School for the Gifted is hoping to break ground sometime in the next few months for their new school. It will be located next door to the Old Ashburn Colored School, which will house up to 125 students.

Louise Winzor, who was a student at the Old Ashburn Colored School, was among a group of former students who attended the dedication Saturday. Winzor presented a painting she created as a donation to the school. Times-Mirror/Karen Graham

Contact the writer at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or on Twitter at @KarenGGraham.


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