Laurel Ridge prepares for “Spring Follies”

Logo used by permission from Laurel Ridge Community College

Laurel Ridge Community College is preparing to present a long running tradition.

The “Spring Follies” variety show will be presented at 2 and 6 p.m. April 13 and 2 p.m. April 14 in the Corron Community Development Center on the college’s Middletown campus. The show will feature music and skits performed by children and adults of all ages

The variety show is a long-running Laurel Ridge tradition, started in the 1970s by Professor Emerita Andrea Ludwick, according to a news release from the college. Ludwick still helps put on the Follies.

This year’s theme is “Be Happy,” according to the release. Director Russell Rinker, who has performed as a member of Blue Man Group and in many other plays and musicals, got his start as a preschooler in The Follies.

“It’s going to be such a fun show!” Ludwick said in the release. “The upbeat music and funny skits are certain to put everyone in a happy mood!”

Preshow activities will begin 90 minutes before showtime, and will include face-painting, coloring, musical chairs and a selfie station. Free ice cream will also be available, the release states. Additionally, Cub Scout Pack 3 will be selling hamburgers, hot dogs, chips and drinks as a summer camp fundraiser.

Tickets are $5 at the door, with children under 5 free. All proceeds benefit the Andrea Ludwick Performing Arts Fund.

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

Laurel Ridge opens doors for community events

Logo used by permission from Laurel Ridge Community College

Laurel Ridge Community College is opening their doors for two upcoming events.

Laurel Ridge will host a Career and Internship Fair at the Corron Community Development Center on Wednesday, April 3rd from 10 am to 2 pm.

The fair will include more than 50 employers in healthcare, banking, government, hospitality, trades, and many other industries.

A full list of employers is available here.

Later in the month, the college will host the closing reception for Arte Libre’s inaugural Youth Art Month Exhibition on April 24th at 5:30pm in the Sekel Art Atrium of Cornerstone Hall.

The celebration of young artists is currently underway and visitors can check out the works of art through April 28th.

Additional information on the Youth Art Exhibition can be found here.

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

United Way NSV celebrates 78 years of Living United

online charity auction

The United Way of the Northern Shenandoah Valley celebrated 78 years of Living United at the annual meeting on February 29th at Laurel Ridge Community College.

Roughly 125 community members and business leaders who have contributed to the recent fundraising campaign gathered to celebrate the theme of, “Be the Change: Empowering with Passion to Make the Impossible Happen.”

The campaign has raised nearly $750,000 and will continue to accept donations through the end of June.

The event also announced the United Way of the NSV’s Todd Thompson Volunteer of the Year Award winner, Dr. Damon DeArment.

He was recognized for his contributions including two terms on the Board of the United Way, two year as chairman, and his assistance in guiding the organization through the pandemic and helping the search for a new President and CEO.

The Youth Volunteer Award was also given to Paige Hiserman of Strasburg High School for her passion for community service and involvement with numerous local organizations.

To hear the United Way’s recent Valley Today episode with Janet Michael, click here.

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

Laurel Ridge boosts local economy by $265.7 million

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A recent economic impact analysis revealed that Laurel Ridge Community College brought roughly $265.7 million to the local economy.

The largest portion of their impact comes from the increased earnings of Laurel Ridge Alumni and their employers.

This accounts for $227.4 million and supports over 2,900 jobs.

The college’s payroll and spending added an additional $24.5 million to the economy through consumer spending like groceries, rent, and other purchases.

The study also showed that for every dollar invested in Laurel Ridge, taxpayers receive $1.50 in value over the course of alumni’s work lives.

This comes from additional tax revenue made by alumni in the workforce.

A 2022 graduate with an associates degree will earn an additional $432,900 over the course of their career.

The study also anticipated Laurel Ridge students would save the region $4.5 million by reducing the demand on healthcare, justice systems, and welfare benefits.

Lightcast, a labor market analysis firm, conducted the study on the entire Virginia Community College System and a few individual schools, including Laurel Ridge.

A link to the announcement and the full report is available here.

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

Laurel Ridge’s Bill Pence honored for contributions

Bill Pence, Operations and Registration Director for Laurel Ridge Community College’s Workforce Solutions, was recognized by the Virginia Community College System for his outstanding contributions to workforce and career education.

He received the Expanding Opportunities Award, the highest honor given by the VCCS at their annual conference.

He is credited with the Workforce Solutions’ team being the first in the VCCS to use online registration and for his instrumental role in bringing additional funding to Virginia community colleges through FANATIC (Financial Assistance Grant) and the Workforce Credential Grant.

Pence has also served the community on the Woodstock Town Council, Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors, Rotary, and much more.

After the recognition, Pence said, “I was very flattered to be awarded the chancellor’s award. I think it’s more of a reflection of the great team I work with and all the good things we do, and not just me individually.”

To view Laurel Ridge’s announcement, click here.

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

Laurel Ridge Community is recognized for STEM education

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Laurel Ridge Community College reports by email being recognized by the International Technology and Engineering Educators Association.

A School of Excellence distinction has been awarded to Laurel Ridge for it’s STEM programs.

Laurel Ridge is just one of six colleges or universities and the only community college to receive the designation.

Dr. Craig Santicola, dean of the School of Professional Programs, said “Our faculty… along with administrators… have not only put in countless hours to ensure a high-quality STEM education, but have also inspired students to think big and explore careers across the STEM fields.”

The college will officially receive the award, including a banner and certificate, at the ITEEA’s annual conference in Memphis, March 6-9.

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

Laurel Ridge receives grant from Mike Rowe’s foundation

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Laurel Ridge Community College was one of three community colleges in Virginia selected to receive a grant from the mikeroweWORKS Foundation.

Laurel Ridge, Blue Ridge, and Patrick Henry community colleges received grants of $85,000 to infuse mikeroweWORKS Work Ethic Certification curriculum into various trade programs.

The TV star of “Dirty Jobs” established the foundation and the S.W.E.A.T. (Skills and Work Ethic Aren’t Taboo) Pledge to focus on the principles of hard work, determination, and respect for others.

Students will participate in 12 one-hour workshops taught by instructors funded through the grant and in collaboration with Wichita State University Tech.

The work ethic curriculum will be embedded across programs offered through Workforce Solutions and through the newly opened Skilled Trades Center at the Fauquier Campus.

To learn more about the grant, click here.

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

Laurel Ridge announces robotics and automation opportunities

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 Laurel Ridge Community College announced new opportunities for students to study robotics and automation at the Fauquier Campus.

The Go Virginia-funded Robotics & Technology Academy will open to students and adults in the region this upcoming spring and offer career studies certificates in the field.

High school students in Fauquier and Rappahannock counties will have the opportunity to enroll in the academy with transportation provided to and from Laurel Ridge.

The 16 credit program introduces students to robotics and automation systems that use Industry 4.0 technologies like artificial intelligence, cloud computing, robotics and other cyber-physical systems.

This new field of study will join the Drone Academy to form Laurel Ridge’s Technology Academy.

The two certificates can combine with four general studies classes to earn an associate degree.

In Virginia, the average robotics technician’s annual salary is roughly $55,000.

To read the full announcement from Laurel Ridge, click here.

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

Laurel Ridge opens esports arena

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Laurel Ridge Community College opened their new esports arena earlier this fall.

The arena is located in the Middletown Campus’s Student Union Building and contains 12 PCs, three Nintendo Switches, and a broadcasting/streaming station.

The new arena is also part of a partnership with Shenandoah University who helped Laurel Ridge purchase $50,000 in equipment using a grant SU received for its Hub for Innovation, Virtual Reality and Entrepreneurship, or HIVE.

Laurel Ridge business administration students can transfer to SU’s esports management degree program which offers certificates, bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

Shenandoah also provided two interns to Laurel Ridge to help establish the esports program.

Roughly 50 students have signed up for the new Lions Esports Organization, or LEO, which is open to all students whether they are playing competitively or recreationally.

To learn more information about the esports program at Laurel Ridge, click here.

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

Laurel Ridge partners with JMU to address teacher shortage

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Laurel Ridge Community College is entering a partnership with James Madison University and Germanna Community College to give aspiring teachers a jump start on their degrees while still in high school and address the ongoing teacher shortage.

The Future Educators Academy will help students earn associate degrees while completing their high school advanced studies diploma.

Students will then receive guaranteed admission into JMU’s highly acclaimed College of Education program and can earn their bachelor’s degree within two years.

This opportunity will be available through both Middletown and Fauquier campuses at Laurel Ridge in the fall of 2025.

Laurel Ridge President Kim Blosser said, “All of the public school divisions in our service region are experiencing teacher shortages, and our rural school divisions are often hit the hardest. We are very excited to help meet that need by educating high school students who live and work in our region.”

For more information on the new program, click here.

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