SU breaks ground on The HIVE

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On Veterans Day, roughly 200 people celebrated the groundbreaking for Shenandoah University’s new Hub for Innovators, Veterans, and Entrepreneurs which will be known as The HIVE.

The former National Guard armory will feature innovative technologies such as 3D printers and laser cutters while also providing a workspace for students and community members to explore these and other revolutionary advancements.

The building will also expand services through the Veterans, Military and Families Center to provide support and resources in high demand fields like cybersecurity and data analytics.

Laurel Ridge, local public schools, and other organizations will partner with The HIVE to help expand their services throughout the community.

The 3rd phase will be finished by August of 2024 with the completion of the fourth and final phase contingent on funding.

For more news from across the Shenandoah Valley, click here.

Laurel Ridge Holiday Book Fair

Meet your Local Authors and Purchase Books for the Holidays

Read Local. Shop Local.

Wednesday, November 30, 2022 from 5 – 7 p.m.
Laurel Ridge Community College
Middletown Campus
173 Skirmisher Lane, Middletown, VA 22657

You’re invited to our very first Holiday Book Fair! We will provide space for you to display your books and have a chance to interact with prospective customers – just in time for the holidays!

We encourage you to invite your fans and families to this brand new holiday tradition at the community college. We do ask that you either bring your own books (and conduct your own sales), OR coordinate with the Winchester Book Gallery.

If you don’t have a book in print, don’t worry.  Go ahead and fill out the form and we will keep you updated on future opportunities with Laurel Ridge. Find the form here:

Mechatronics Program Expands with the Help of an $800,000 Grant

Logo used by permission from Laurel Ridge Community College

Laurel Ridge Community College Workforce Solutions’ in-demand mechatronics program on the Middletown Campus is being expanded with the help of $800,000 in grant funding.

The grant was awarded in August by GO Virginia, an initiative led by business leaders around the state designed to create private-sector growth and new jobs. The program is based on collaboration among industry, education partners and municipalities.

Laurel Ridge Community College has partnered with the city of Winchester, Frederick County and Shenandoah County on the project to expand mechatronics programming. GO Virginia awarded $530,000 on the condition that Workforce Solutions provides about $270,000 in matching funds.

A study from January 2022 revealed more than 3,000 unfilled manufacturing positions in the region, costing the Shenandoah Valley $1.4 billion in economic output.

Workforce Solutions began building the mechatronics Level 1 pathway in 2019. Students who complete Level 1 earn seven certifications through five classes, and are well-rounded technicians able to efficiently operate manufacturing equipment. With their level of training, they are able to ensure that the systems are running at maximum capacity, and can identify malfunctions and make minor repairs.

The grant funding is being used to expand the mechatronics program to include Level 2.  Equipment is being purchased this fall, with classes expected to begin in early 2023 in Alson H. Smith Hall, which has been expanded to make room for the program extension.

Expanding the program will build a strong workforce pipeline to meet the needs of manufacturers in the materials, parts, machinery, food and pharmaceutical industries. Students will graduate with flexible and stackable industry-approved credentialing and degree opportunities. The programming is geared to current employees looking to upskill, as well as unemployed and under-employed individuals.

“The partnership of innovation and technology makes this a transformative proposal for the region,” said Jeanian Clark, vice president of Workforce Solutions and Continuing Education at Laurel Ridge. “By cost-sharing the investment for equipment with GO Virginia, we can support our employers by more quickly bringing additional courses and certifications to market.”

The mechatronics training is designed to allow students to stack credentials horizontally or vertically. Horizontal stacking allows students to train across a variety of topics to become well-rounded technicians. Vertical stacking provides a more concentrated focus on a specialized topic, moving through both levels to complete credentials and degrees.

Students who become certified in Level 2 mechatronics are prepared to work as both operator and production technicians able to assess and analyze systems. They can manage, investigate, repair and troubleshoot industry 4.0 systems to maximize operations and process control. This level prepares students to work as electromechanical technicians, mechatronics technicians, automation technicians, robotics technicians and applications engineers.

Laurel Ridge Workforce Solutions is able to offer the mechatronics programming in a variety of formats – traditionally scheduled, bootcamp style fast-track training, customized worksite training and apprenticeship training. Learn more at


For more news from across the Shenandoah Valley, click here.

News Maker Kaitlyn Lambert on food insecurity at college

Food insecurity among students is surprisingly high at Laurel Ridge Community College campuses.

We spoke with Assistant Director of Financial Aid Kaitlyn Lambert of Laurel Ridge Community College about it in our latest news maker.

News makers are brought to you by Warren County Together We are Community.

Kaitlyn explains what the school is doing to help students with food insecurity.

She also tells us about the grants awarded to help with the effort.

Kaitlyn also explains the various opportunities available for students at all the Laurel Ridge Community College locations.

For more news from across the Shenandoah Valley, click here.

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News Maker Kaitlyn Lambert on food insecurity at college

Eleanor C. and William A. Hazel Hall dedicated on Fauquier Campus

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Hazel Hall, a 40,000-square-foot building on Laurel Ridge Community College’s Fauquier Campus that houses science, health professions and engineering classrooms and labs, a makerspace and conference center, was formally dedicated on Wednesday.


In 2013 – the same year that the Fauquier Campus celebrated its 25th anniversary – the family of the late Eleanor C. and William A. Hazel announced a $1 million gift in support of a new building campaign. William Hazel was a Northern Virginia contractor who prized education, giving generously to numerous scholarships and educational organizations throughout his lifetime.


“Because of that gift, our vision of being able to expand the offerings here at the Fauquier Campus actually had a chance to become reality,” Laurel Ridge President Kim Blosser said. “We were so excited to be able to start fall classes here this semester. Hazel Hall is transformational for our campus and for our community.”


The PATH Foundation furthered the project along when it made a $1 million gift to the project in 2016. In addition to state funding, many generous donations from community members have made the innovative building possible.


Laurel Ridge engineering, science, and health professions students, including those in the nursing and surgical technology programs, are able to use the academic building’s state-of-the-art classrooms, which include labs for nursing skills, chemistry, engineering design, physics, biology, microbiology and anatomy and physiology. The much-needed space means the college can expand programming in these high-demand fields.


Additionally, the facility houses a makerspace and observation rooms for faculty members to assess students as they perform labs in hospital simulation rooms. Mountain Vista Governor’s School students use the classrooms and labs daily. There is also the Barkman Family Conference Center, which can be used by community organizations.


“We’re a community college – we’re really looking forward to sharing these spaces with you,” Dr. Chris Coutts, vice president of communications and planning and provost of the Fauquier Campus, told the gathered crowd of more than 200 community members, donors, students, faculty, staff and government officials.


He described Hazel Hall as a “gamechanger” for Laurel Ridge.


“We’re motivated by what’s possible and what we haven’t had before on this campus,” he said.


Two Laurel Ridge alumni spoke to how the college had set them on the path of vital, fulfilling careers. 2020 nursing graduate Shannon Weisbrodt is a registered nurse in the oncology department at Inova Fair Oaks Hospital and recently earned her bachelor of science degree in nursing from the University of Virginia.


As the mother of five children, Weisbrodt had worried she had neither the time nor the money to attend college as an adult, but after attending a nursing information session, her drive was “rekindled.” She benefited from several scholarships, including the Eleanor C. and William A. Hazel Family Endowed Scholarship.


“With this building, we can offer more spots and bring more nurses who are local into the nursing program,” said Weisbrodt, who said she sees the effects of the nursing shortage every shift. “I get to do my part to alleviate human suffering every night I work. We desperately need nurses.”


A 1983 graduate, Dr. Carla Dove is the program manager for the Feather Identification Lab at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. A first-generation college student and a lover of the outdoors, she had “no idea” what she wanted to do when she started attending Laurel Ridge. But then she took numerous classes with now-retired Biology Professor Rob Simpson.


“Rob’s passion was birds, and that rubbed off on me,” said Dr. Dove, who is a forensic ornithologist whose work includes studying bird strikes on aircraft engines.


Professor Simpson encouraged her to continue her education, suggesting she attend the University of Montana, which would accept all of her credits, to earn her bachelor’s degree. Dr. Dove took him up on that offer, saying her trip to Montana was her first time on an airplane. She later earned her master’s and doctoral degrees at George Mason University.


“It was just a wonderful experience to have such inspirational mentors,” she said. “I’m really excited that the local students – and even the regional students – have a place like this where they can get a quality education and have wonderful teachers.”


PATH Foundation Board Member Raymond Knott, who is also the chair of the GO Virginia Region 9 Council, spoke as well. He said the college actually requested less money from the PATH Foundation, but the foundation felt so strongly about the project, it increased its grant to $1 million.


“This was the largest grant at that time that we had made,” Knott said.


Before introducing Dr. William A. “Bill” Hazel Jr., President Blosser spoke about his parents, Eleanor and William Hazel Sr.


“He was one of our most generous benefactors,” she said. “Mr. Hazel once said that education is the beginning of everything. Our college provides students a path to the American dream. Mr. and Mrs.  Hazel achieved that dream, and they wanted others to have the same opportunity.”


Dr. Hazel introduced his family members who attended Wednesday’s ceremony.


“On behalf of the family, we’re thankful,” he said. “We all choose to do this together. Mom and Dad wouldn’t have their name on things generally….But I think it’s appropriate to recognize them here, and I think they would be proud of this particular building because of the programming. The programs here provide opportunities for life success.

For more news from across the Shenandoah Valley, click here.

News Maker Andrew Gyurisin on an art show at Laurel Ridge

Laurel Ridge Community College will host a National Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) art show with a reception for the event Fri. Aug 26.

We spoke with the Development Officer for Laurel Ridge Community College Andrew Gyurisin about the show in our latest news maker.

News makers are brought to you by Warren County Together We are Community.

Andrew tells us about the show being a Nation wide touring exhibit.

He also tells us that there are some local artist involved in the show as well as artist from all parts of  the United States.

Andrew also tells us about the reception planned for the event.

For more news from across the Shenandoah Valley, click here.

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News Maker Andrew Gyurisin on an art show at Laurel Ridge

Laurel Ridge Community College Medallions awarded

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Laurel Ridge Community College announced the recipients of their annual honoring of citizens whose leadership scholarship and service contribute to the mission of the college.

This year Laurel Ridge Medallions of Recognition went to Math Professor Frank Borleske who retired after 52 years of service.

Dr. Glenn DuBois recent retiree from the Virginia Community College System.

Shenandoah University President Tracy Fitzsimmons was also honored.

The former Lord Fairfax Health District Director Dr. Colin Green were all honored during a luncheon at the college Tuesday.

For more news from across the Shenandoah Valley, click here.

Laurel Ridge Community College awarded for work with SCPS

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An email from Laurel Ridge Community College confirms that the partnership between Laurel Ridge Community College and Shenandoah County Public Schools (SCPS) has been recognized.

The collaboration was awarded first place in the Virginia School Boards Association’s (VSBA) Excellence in Workforce Readiness Award.

The award recognizes the Certified Nursing Association (CNA) Phlebotomy program’s success.

Eleven students attending the Triplett Tech program completed the CNA training and certification followed by completing a phlebotomy course this past spring.

SCPS’s supervisor of career pathway and technical education Todd Lynn was asked to help fill a need by Valley Health who faced a shortage of patient care technicians.

Lynn in turn reached out to Laurel Ridge Community College to provide  a phlebotomy instructor.

Lynn added that the award shows the success of the community coming together to fill a need in the area.

For more news from across the Shenandoah Valley, click here.

Laurel Ridge Community College breaks ground in Fauquier

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Laurel Ridge Community College announced ground breaking ceremonies occurred at its Fauquier Campus Center on Tue. Aug. 2 for the school’s Skilled Trades complex.

The new 8,000 square foot facility will provide space for plumbing, electrical, HVAC, heavy equipment operator, carpentry and welding programs.

The facility is set on a 62 acre piece of property that was donated to the Laurel Ridge Education Foundation.

Previously trade education at the Fauquier school was done on leased locations and modular buildings.

Through the Building the Future campaign and the PATH Foundation the school is more than halfway towards it’s $1.5 million goal to fund the facility.

For more news from across the Shenandoah Valley, click here.

LFCC officially becomes Laurel Ridge

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Lord Fairfax Community College officially became Laurel Ridge Community College.

Small ceremonies at its campuses in Middletown, Fauquier and Page County marked the name change. 

In July of 2021, the State Board for Community Colleges approved the name Laurel Ridge.

This followed the boards decision to review the suitability of their name at all colleges in Virginia Community College System.

College Board Chair Michael Wenger said at the Page County naming ceremony, “The past year, they have been building the foundation, not for an ending, but a beginning, and it starts right away.”

For more news from across the Shenandoah Valley, click here.