The County Chronicle

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The County Chronicle

The County Chronicle

Head librarian preserves school history

Flecks of yellowed and withered paper fall onto my hand as I turn the page. Inside The Loudoun Raider lies an entirely new world of distinct culture, tradition, and society. I have discovered a true time machine that travels into our school’s history, and I immediately go to head librarian Patricia Bagdasarian to share my experience.

Over the course of our school’s 70 years, an accumulation of documents, running from yearbooks to school newspapers, have been stored in order to preserve our school history and heritage. However, as time passes these documents wear with age, and our history becomes seemingly lost. 

“I’ve had kids come in and look at them [library documents] over the past couple of years,” Bagdasarian said. “Though it didn’t occur to me until you came in that day to have them archived.”

The Loudoun Raider, the former name of our student newspaper, are preserved two bound books made up of school newspapers that were written within the first two decades of the school’s opening, though a third volume, with the years 1960 to 1968 missing. The surviving books give us major insight into how the school culture has changed over the years in matters such as segregation, women’s rights, and school traditions. That first conversation we had shared about The Loudoun Raiders inspired Bagdasarian to get them archived. Now it was only a matter of setting the plan into motion.

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“I immediately knew that I needed help with figuring out how to preserve them,” Bagdasarian said.

Bagdasarian decided to call upon the help of the Thomas Balch library in downtown Leesburg. The Thomas Balch Library is not a typical library filled with books to check out. It is a genealogy library, which focuses on researching and uncovering all aspects of Northern Virginia history. 

With the help of Curator of Manuscripts and Archives Laura Christiansen, Bagdasarian, along with the Newspaper and Journalism class, was able to learn how to scan the documents in order to archive them digitally.

Along with bringing technology to scan a few pages of our old newspapers, Christiansen brought old photographs from when the school first opened and newspapers from the 19th century, showing the students the sometimes shocking history of our county.

“I was just looking through a newspaper from the 1860s, and I was extremely shocked at seeing a slave ad in print,” Martinez said. 

This demonstrates the importance of exposing students to historical manuscripts, so as to give students the learning opportunity to experience history first hand. 

“Our instructional facilitator of technology, [Kayla] Urban, just bought us the same scanner that Balch has,” Bagdasarian said.

This scanner can now help us continue archiving our school documents, and can be used by departments across the school.

“You might think that we don’t need a copy of this oral program for the Winter 2023 concert, but it may be an important link somewhere down the road,” Bagdasarian said. “I think what I’m realizing and what I want others to know is that there are reasons to keep stuff like that.” 

Left to right: Sophomore Karan Singh, senior Brianna Martinez, and Curator of Manuscripts and Archives, Laura Christiansen, look over a collection of 19th century newspapers. Martinez gasps at the sight of an ad for a person for sale. (Photo by Valerie Egger)

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About the Contributor
Scarlett Ashford, staff writer
Scarlett Ashford is a freshman at Loudoun County High School, and this is her first year as a staff writer for The County Chronicle. She enjoys playing softball, has been playing piano for the past 7 years, and is 4th chair French horn for the Loudoun Symphony Youth Orchestra. She spends her free time writing, reading, listening to rock music, and watching horror movies.

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