Community Rallies to Repair Ashburn Colored School

The site of the Ashburn Colored School was crowded most of the day Sunday with volunteers wanting to erase the hateful graffiti painted on the one-room schoolhouse a week earlier.

Armed with paint scrapers and brushes, the workers, young and old, covered the racist and vulgar messages with a fresh coat of paint.

Yvonne Neal Thornton, who attended the Ashburn Colored School, returned to the property to greet the volunteers and see the schoolhouse she spent most of her days in from 1938 to 1945. In a 2015 interview, the 83-year-old described the now 124-year-old building as a safe haven for black families over the years. “It’s like a landmark for those of us who went there,” she said.

[View a photo gallery of Sunday’s Community Restoration Celebration here.]

The vandalism that took place overnight on Sept. 30 was described by one student as “a beautiful irony.” It came about 20 months after a small private school in Ashburn, Loudoun School for the Gifted, had purchased the property and launched a fundraising effort to repair the schoolhouse and turn it into a museum on the history of education.

Yvonne Neal Thornton, who attended the Ashburn Colored School in 1930s and '40s, is greeted by friends and volunteers after she visited during clean up. [Douglas Graham/Loudoun Now]
Yvonne Neal Thornton, who attended the Ashburn Colored School in 1930s and ’40s, is greeted by friends and volunteers after she visited during clean up. [Douglas Graham/Loudoun Now]
Since news of the vandalism spread in the past week, the project’s GoFundMe page has raised more than $71,500. The entire restoration project will cost about $100,000.
Deep Sran, founder of the Loudoun School for the Gifted, said he didn’t expect to get close to that fundraising goal for another two years. But the support generated in the past week fast-forwarded the project.

“The outpouring of resources and affection and the whole community has really come together. Things that we were going to do two years from now or a year from now are possible now,” he said. “We are very, very gratified and honored that that has been the case.”

Sunday’s work day was organized by the Loudoun NAACP and its 300 allotted volunteer slots filled up in about an hour. Loudoun School for the Gifted Executive Director Susan Talbott said those who did not get a chance to lend a hand but still want to will likely get their chance. Help will be needed in the coming months, especially when the landscaping and site work begins.

Investigators believe five teenage boys are responsible for the graffiti. Investigators are working with the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office and the Loudoun County Juvenile Court Service Unit Intake Department to obtain charges in the case. The names of the suspects are not being released because they are younger than 18.

dnadler@loudounnow.com
twitter.com/danielle_nadler

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