The Old Ashburn Schoolhouse, a historic, one-room African American school from the post-Civil War era, was vandalized with offensive, racist and vulgar graffiti. The crime left the community frustrated, especially the local students working to restore the building.
A detective on scene said the incident took place sometime between 11 p.m. Friday and 5 a.m. Saturday. He was not ready to call it a hate crime, suspecting ignorant kids are responsible.
There are no witnesses or suspects at this time. But the detective thinks that police might get a break in the case when kids return to school and start talking.
The schoolhouse once educated African American students from around the 19th century into the late 1950’s, closing about five years after Brown v. Board of Education called for the desegregation of schools.
Fast forward more than half of a century and students from Loudoun County School for the Gifted are committed to show the perpetrators what progress looks like.
“It’s awful,” said Shailee Sran, a student working to restore the school. “I mean so much time and effort went into restoring this old school house. And it’s just appalling, like the ignorance and racism that was painted here.”
The school was built by a nearby church on property purchased by an African American. Anywhere from 20 to 40 African American students, ranging from kindergartners through eighth graders, would attend at a time. Students within a three-mile radius would walk to class, explained Deep Sran, the founder of the student-led committee working to restore the structure.
“I want it to be a space where students come in,” Sran said. “They think of it as a working space and they kind of imagine what it was like and kind of the direction of progress we made since then.”
The students conducted enough research and raised enough money through bake sales, donations and a GoFundMe account to start restoring the structure.
The committee had the foundation replaced, commingling new stones with stones that are more than a century old. The chimney was renovated. And last week, new windows were installed. Now, two of the three renovations are damaged.
“We were so far and it sort of just brought us back. And it’s horrible,” said Ella Sran, also on the committee.
The committee, however, remains committed. To reach their goal though, it needs an additional $75,000.
“This honestly doesn’t really hurt us, all this is going to do is just get us more coverage and then just more money to help us restore this place,” said Taz Foreman, another student on the project.
The students hope to one day open it to the public and then use it as a working space for the Loudoun County School for the Gifted.