Four months after students and staff at Loudoun School for the Gifted unveiled their three-year effort to restore a historic one-room schoolhouse, they’re digging into another building project.
They recently broke ground on their future school building, a 16,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility that the private school will call home this time next year.
The building will sit just a few hundred yards from the restored Ashburn Colored School. Leaders of the Loudoun School for the Gifted bought the abandoned schoolhouse and 3.1 acres it sits on three years ago. The school served the community’s black children from 1892 to 1959.
Efforts to raise money to restore the schoolhouse were initially slow going. But that changed unexpectedly in the fall of 2016, after teenagers spray-painted racist messages on the wood-framed building. Within a few days, the once-abandoned schoolhouse became known around the world and, within weeks, the students and teachers had reached their $100,000 fundraising goal, accelerating plans for the school.
Loudoun School for the Gifted founder Deep Sran, joined by preservationists, contractors and volunteers, have since restored the 124-year-old building to its original state, and they are now in the process of reopening the schoolhouse as a living museum on education.
For years, Sran has had a vision for Loudoun School for the Gifted to share a campus with the historic Ashburn Colored School. Contractor Hammerhead Construction officially began work on the new school building just before Christmas.
What will make this school building different than the nearly 100 others in the county is that it is, in part, student-designed. Sran has asked students to offer their input from the very beginning. They’ve weighed in on what type of feeling they want passersby to have when they see the building’s exterior, and they’ve brainstormed about how the interior of the building can best flow to encourage an environment for learning.
“Our eighth grade students will spend the second semester working on the library,” Sran said. “[We’ve asked them to] think about what a library should be in the digital age and what the critical titles in any secondary collection should be.”
The building is designed to house 120 middle and high school students.
When the project is complete, Sran pictures the campus like a timeline of education history. Passersby will see what education was once like on the left—small, simple and segregated—and what it can become on the right.
Since Loudoun School for the Gifted opened in 2008, it has operated out of leased space along Loudoun County Parkway. It currently enrolls 60 middle and high school students.