The names of five companies and organizations will be prominently displayed throughout the newly opened Academies of Loudoun, following a vote of the Loudoun County School Board.
The board voted unanimously Tuesday to name several labs, a common area, and the dining commons after companies and organizations that collectively donated more than $1 million to the new campus. The donors who will be recognized throughout the building are Raytheon Corporation, General Dynamics Information Technology, Holder Construction, Jack Kent Cooke Foundation and Stantec.
The Academies of Loudoun opened six weeks ago and welcomed 2,400 students, who attend courses on the new campus every other day. It houses three magnet programs: the Academy of Science, the Academy of Engineering and Technology, and Monroe Advanced Technical Academy.
Raytheon Corporation, the largest donor to be recognized, gave $520,000, and asked that $200,000 go directly to support the Academies; $200,000 support the EDGE Academy, a hands-on STEM related afterschool program; and $100,000 support the Backpack Coalition, which provides students in need with food on the weekends. The remaining amount is an unrestricted gift to support the mission of the Loudoun Education Foundation. The company will be recognized with its name displayed in a computer science lab, a cybersecurity lab, an auto service lab, and a science lab.
The Academies’ commons area will be named after the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, a nonprofit organization based in Lansdowne. The foundation’s $300,000 gift will support the EDGE Academy.
The first floor computer science lab will be named after General Dynamics Information Technology, recognizing the company for its $125,000 donation. The unrestricted gift can support any project of the Loudoun Education Foundation. According to LEF Executive Director Dawn Meyer, this might include support for teacher grants relating to STEM education or funds to support computer science learning experiences. LEF staff plans to recommend that the foundation board allocate a portion of the funds directly to the Academies.
The same goes for a $25,000 gift from Holder Construction, the contractor for the Academies. The collaboration room on the campus will be named after Holder.
Stantec, the engineering firm for the project, donated $100,000. The gift is also unrestricted to support whatever program LEF deems worthy.
Ahead of their vote Tuesday, board members shared their appreciation for the gifts, which will help develop the programs at the Academies and equip younger students for the more rigorous coursework the Academies offers. School Board member Eric DeKenipp (Catoctin) acknowledged that the companies are more than financial partners of the school system.
“It’s not just about finances, folks. We have some of the brightest minds in the world right here in the DC area, and specifically in Loudoun County,” he said. He noted that LEF’s newly launched gift campaign put an invitation out to organizations to donate and partner with the school system to develop the region’s future workforce. “This allowed us to bring those minds into the classroom. These are partnership that will benefit our students and our faculty for generations to come.”
The only debate among board members was whether to approve the names at Tuesday’s meeting or at a meeting in two weeks. The majority voted to suspend the regular rules of order—which provide for an agenda item to be introduced in one meeting and voted on in a later meeting—and to vote Tuesday.
Eric Hornberger (Ashburn), Jill Turgeon (Blue Ridge), Debbie Rose (Algonkian) and Joy Maloney (Broad Run) said they preferred to follow the regular rules of order to provide time for the public to weigh in. “I think there’s complete support for the names, but I think we do need to hear from the public on it,” Turgeon said.
Chairman Jeff Morse (Dulles) supported fast-tracking the names’ approval so that plaques and signs could be made and hung ahead of the Academies’ Oct. 30 dedication ceremony.
“We certainly need to get public input, but I cannot imagine that someone from the public would change my mind by saying they don’t want a plaque provided on a facility in recognition of an incredible contribution to the community—it would be a slap in the face,” Morse said. “I think we’re sending a better message to the community—both those who have contributed and those who may contribute—to say our facilities are welcoming to your contributions.”