MIDDLETOWN — Five top names have emerged as Lord Fairfax Community College's naming task force continues the work of choosing a new name for the college, according to a Thursday morning news release from LFCC.
The top contenders are Valley & Vista, Red Oak, Laurel Ridge, Valley & Ridge and Newbridge.
The list was released in advance of a Thursday evening telephone town hall to give the public a chance to learn more about the renaming process. Coverage of the town hall will be in Saturday's edition.
In February, LFCC’s College Board voted to rename the college, which was founded in 1970 in Middletown. Its namesake, Thomas, the 6th Lord Fairfax, was an 18th-century slave owner who came to America from England, eventually settling in White Post in Clarke County. He had vast land holdings and was a mentor to a young George Washington, but he remained loyal to the British during the Revolutionary War.
LFCC, like the other 22 in the Virginia Community College System, was directed last summer by the Virginia State Board for Community Colleges to review its name, as well as those of all its named facilities.
Following the LFCC College Board’s decision, students, staff, alumni and members of the community were encouraged to submit possible names for consideration, and more than 100 did so.
“Overwhelmingly, the community input centered around the breathtaking beauty of the natural surroundings for which the LFCC service region is known,” said Kelly O’Keefe, CEO of Brand Federation, which is working with the college during this transition period. “They sought names that were both anchored to geographic features of the Shenandoah Valley region and reflective of the values that unite the college, its students and its community.”
Numerous community colleges in Virginia have links to their local geography, including Blue Ridge Community College, Mountain Empire Community College, Tidewater Community College and Piedmont Community College, the release stated.
Last week, the Frederick County Board of Supervisors expressed opposition to the name change and voted 5-1 to send a letter to the Virginia State Board for Community Colleges objecting to the plan. One supervisor called the renaming "unwarranted."
Following is a summary of the name finalists:
Valley & Vista Community College
The task force thought the name was unifying and inclusive of the entire service region.
It brings to mind an upward progression, much like the academic journey and broader horizons our students explore.
Vista has inspirational connotations.
Red Oak Community College
More than half of the forest in Shenandoah National Park consists of red oaks, and the strength and towering stature of the trees represent the growth and opportunity provided by the college.
Oak trees have historical and cultural significance. Kings wore crowns of oak leaves, and the tree signifies strength in the Bible.
Laurel Ridge Community College
Laurels grow abundantly within the college’s service area, which also features distinctive mountain ridges.
Laurel is also a verb meaning “to bestow an award or praise in recognition of an achievement, often academic.”
The ancient Greeks presented laurel wreaths to athletes, poets and war heroes.
As the upper edge of a mountain range, ridge can serve as a metaphor for the level of success and range of opportunities offered by the college.
Valley & Ridge Community College
One of the regions of Virginia, west of the Blue Ridge and east of the Appalachian Plateau Region, is the Valley & Ridge Region.
The name unites the service regions while paying tribute to the natural landscape.
Newbridge Community College
A recurring theme among comments and stories from students and alumni was that the college gave them a new outlook and a new start. The word “new” speaks to new beginnings.
“Bridge” can refer to where students are now and where they’d like to be in the future.