Laurel Ridge holding its 48th commencement exercises this weekend

For Immediate Release:
May 9, 2019

Primary Media Contact:
Sally Voth
Public Relations Specialist
[email protected]
Phone: 540-868-7134

commencement image

This Saturday, starting at 1 p.m., Laurel Ridge will hold its 48th commencement ceremony. The graduation will be at Skyline High School in Front Royal.

There are approximately 1,200 students in the Laurel Ridge Class of 2019. This total includes students who met all their graduation requirements in summer 2018, fall 2018 and this spring.

Graduate totals by location:

  • Frederick County – 279
  • Fauquier County – 192
  • City of Winchester – 165
  • Shenandoah County – 151
  • Warren County – 121
  • Page County – 79
  • Clarke County – 49
  • Rappahannock County – 20

Among the graduates are 372 Governor’s Scholars, high school students who have earned enough college credits through dual-enrollment courses to obtain either an associate degree or certificate in general education. This is a 28-percent increase over last year.

“This is such an exciting and rewarding time of year for faculty and our students,” Laurel Ridge President Kim Blosser says. “We are so proud of all their hard work. And, we are pleased to have increased the number of graduates this year by about 20 students.”

Olivia Henderson, who is graduating with her associate of arts and sciences degree in business administration and transferring to George Mason University in the fall, is the featured speaker.

Also on Saturday, the College Board will present Medallions of Recognition to five individuals who have contributed in a variety of ways to Laurel Ridge’s mission. They are:

  • Joel Barkman, president, CEO and founder of Golden Rule Builders Inc. in Catlett. A strong advocate for the college – and the father of two former Laurel Ridge students – Barkman and his wife, Patricia, provided a $250,000 gift to the Laurel Ridge Educational Foundation in support of the Hazel Hall building project.
  • Joanne Cherefko, a retired educator, whose distinguished career includes an assistant superintendent position in New Jersey, an adjunct professorship at Laurel Ridge, and being a founding member of the Mountain Vista Governor’s School, which is housed at Laurel Ridge’s two campuses. She is a past member of the Warren County School Board and is on the Board of Directors for the Warren County Educational Endowment.
  • Kenneth Garrison Jr., executive director of the Heavy Construction Contractors Association (HCCA). He and the HCCA played a vital role as Laurel Ridge established and then expanded the heavy equipment operator credentialed program. When crucial grant funding was paused, the HCCA provided $50,000 in scholarship funding to keep the program in operation.
  • Fran Jeffries, who has contributed to education as a high school English teacher, assistant principal, director of middle and secondary instruction for Frederick County Public Schools, and adjunct faculty member at Shenandoah University. She served a total of 13 years on the Laurel Ridge College Board, steering the board during its search for a fifth Laurel Ridge president in 2017.
  • Nancy Penney, who retired in 2018 as Laurel Ridge’s longest-tenured English professor with 48 years of service. She was a longtime member of the Faculty Council, active on the Teaching Excellence Committee and a fierce advocate for the college’s faculty and students on the Chancellor’s Faculty Advisory Committee.

Additionally, two retired faculty members are being named professors emeriti for their contributions and service to Lord Fairfax. The honor goes to former Math Professor Michael Garrand, and former Psychology Professor Stephen Wisecarver.


Founded in 1970, Laurel Ridge Community College is a multi-campus public institution of higher education. With three locations — Middletown, Warrenton, and Luray-Page County — the College serves eight localities in the Shenandoah Valley and northern Piedmont regions. The localities are the counties of Clarke, Fauquier, Frederick, Page, Rappahannock, Shenandoah and Warren and the city of Winchester. Laurel Ridge offers more than 75 associate degree and certificate programs in a wide variety of disciplines, in addition to providing access to bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs offered on site by a four-year institution. Laurel Ridge also serves the business community by offering workforce preparation programs for employees and employers. Laurel Ridge serves more than 9,000 unduplicated credit students and more than 11,000 individuals in professional development and business and industry courses annually.

Laurel Ridge Community College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to award associate degrees. Laurel Ridge Community College also may offer credentials such as certificates and diplomas at approved degree levels. Questions about the accreditation of Laurel Ridge Community College may be directed in writing to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, GA 30033-4097, by calling (404) 679-4500, or by using information available on SACSCOC’s website (

Laurel Ridge Community College is an equal opportunity institution providing educational and employment opportunities, programs, services, and activities. Laurel Ridge shall promote and maintain equal employment and educational opportunities without regard to race, color, religion, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, ethnicity, marital status, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions including lactation, age (except when age is a bona fide occupational qualification), status as a veteran, national origin, or other non-merit factors. Laurel Ridge also prohibits sexual misconduct including sexual violence or harassment. Inquiries may be directed to the Associate Vice President, Human Resources, [email protected]173 Skirmisher Lane, Middletown, VA 22645, 540-868-7226.

Laurel Ridge Community College was known as Lord Fairfax Community College until June 2022. For consistency purposes, the college will be referenced as Laurel Ridge going forward.