Hundreds show up to restore vandalized schoolhouse

Photo of Joe Foley painting Ashburn Colored School
Joe Foley, 11, of Leesburg, Va. joins hundreds of volunteers helping restore the Ashburn Colored School on Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016. (WTOP/John Domen)
Photo of volunteers painting Ashburn Colored School
Hundreds of volunteers came out to Ashburn Colored School on Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016. The school had been targeted by racist graffiti. (WTOP/John Domen)
Photo of Joe Foley painting Ashburn Colored School
Photo of volunteers painting Ashburn Colored School

ASHBURN, Va. — Hundreds of people showed up at the site of the Ashburn Colored School on Sunday to help restore the structure, which had been vandalized with racist graffiti the weekend before.

“We finished five hours of work in the first two hours, so then we were able to do an additional week or two’s worth of work.” said Deep Sran, the founder of the Loudoun School for the Gifted, which owns the land.

The school has been raising money to restore the structure. Since the site was vandalized Sran said he’s been able to raise tens of thousands of dollars, which were used to help buy materials, such as the white paint that was being applied by numerous rollers on all four sides.

Tim Buckholz of Ashburn made this the first stop after returning from a trip out of town.

“It kind of shows the diversity of the community and that we aren’t going to put up with this stuff,” said Buckholz, who had specks of paint on his face from scraping it off a wall.

Several hours into the restoration, Sran was beaming about the fruits of all the labor.

“It looks very close to what it looked like in the one image we have from 1940,” said Sran. “We have a lot of work still to do, replacing boards and so on.”

He said the vandalism incident was “a blessing in disguise.”

“We’re years ahead, in terms of our fundraising,” Sran said. “We now have the resources to bring this building back to life and begin to contemplate a museum of education behind it.”

Former student Yvonne Thornton-Neal said the vandalism last weekend was “heartbreaking to see.” But the number of people came together to put paint on the building offered comfort.

“It’s a joy to see what happened today,” Thornton-Neal said.

William Lucas, also a former student, said it offered up one more lesson.

“This shows the will of the people,” said Lucas, “and what can happen when you have a large sum of people get together.”

John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

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