School Board Honors National Merit Scholars, Recognizes Gun Violence and LGBTQ+ Awareness Month

On Tuesday, May 24, the LCPS School Board met to discuss the dedication of Blue Ridge Middle School library to longtime staff member Sheila Lightner, and addressed action items including requesting financial support.


Amelia Chen

On Tuesday, May 24, the LCPS School Board met for their 2nd Tuesday of the month meeting and discussed a variety of topics including gun violence; the first Friday in June was proposed to be celebrated as national gun violence awareness day in LCPS schools.

On May 24, the Loudoun County School Board met to discuss the renaming of a middle school library, honor national merit scholars, and acknowledge gun violence around the country. 

The meeting began with deciding if remote participants could participate in the meeting — At-Large School Board member Denise Corbo was voted to join the meeting in a 4-2 vote and was provided a medical exemption from attending in person.

The pledge of allegiance was led by the category winners of the LCPS Regional Science and Engineering Fair, which included senior Sofia DiFulvio, who won 1st place in the Biochemistry/Chemistry category. 

Next, Vice-Chair and Blue Ridge District Representative Ian Serotkin introduced the motion to name the Blue Ridge Middle School library “The Sheila Lightner Library”  for a period of 10 years after former librarian, Sheila Lightner. Lightner began working at BRMS in 1978 as a librarian and held the position until her retirement in 2020 and is the longest serving member of the BRMS faculty. “Ms. Lightner Nakles was a key part of the school community for decades, helping transform Blue Ridge Middle School from a new school to a connected, thriving bulldog community,” Serotkin said. 

 Lightner was in attendance at the meeting and given a round of applause for her dedication to BRMS. A celebration of BRMS’s 50th anniversary was held earlier this school year, which also honored Lightner with a dedication ceremony for the library. “The entire room was filled with parents, teachers, former and current students who Ms. Lightner made a profound difference in their lives over the course of 46 years,” Serotkin said.

In his superintendent’s report, Superintendent Scott Ziegler announced various updates within LCPS. 12 LCPS students including Rock Ridge seniors Raahi Chada, Neha Krishna, and Dheemanth Munipalli received $2,500 scholarships for being named National Merit Scholars. The winners were announced on Tuesday, May 11. According to Ziegler, the scholarship recipients were selected from a pool of 15,000 students. 

Munipalli is excited to use the scholarship money to help fund his studies in Economics and Computer Science at UC Berkeley in the fall. “Winning the money feels amazing as afterall, money is money, and with college being extremely expensive, it helps to decrease that burden to an extent,” Munipalli said.

Munipalli said he didn’t do anything in particular to score well on the PSAT/NMSQT and “didn’t really study for it” as he had already prepared for the SAT prior to taking the PSAT. Scoring well is a key component of being selected as a national merit scholar.

Munipalli found that the hardest part of the entire process was creating an essay about himself. “The hardest part of the process of becoming a merit scholar is formulating a story about your character and identity once you have been selected as a semi-finalist,” Munipalli said.

Four teachers were also named “Outstanding Substitute Teachers of the Year” out of the 51 nominated; they included Ms. Harrison from Arcola Elementary School.

In action item 13.09, the heavy topic of gun violence awareness was discussed and presented by Ashley Ellis. The proclamation put  forth the idea of having the first Friday in June celebrated as national gun violence awareness day within Loudoun County schools. In the proclamation, it states that “Loudoun County Public Schools believe that the health and safety of students and employees are the number one priority,” so it is important to the board to bring light to these topics within the Loudoun County school system. 

The next school board meeting will take place on June 22.