Laurel Ridge Community College Workforce Solutions’ first Summer Academy for Career Exploration a success

For Immediate Release:
June 13, 2023

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

Group photo of students
Students received hands-on training, and toured both Laurel Ridge and Mercury Paper in Strasburg.

Ten local high school students participated in Laurel Ridge Community College Workforce Solutions’ first-ever Summer Academy for Career Exploration June 5-9, on the Middletown Campus. The students, all of whom had a disability, were between ages 15 and 18.

The college partnered with the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services and NW Works, Inc., to provide the students with hands-on learning experiences in a variety of areas. 

“The priority was to create accessible opportunities for these teens to pursue career pathways leading to higher pay and advancement opportunities,” said Debera Taylor, director of corporate training and development for Workforce Solutions. “Each day started with a welcome and an overview of learning from the previous day, and ended with a recap to reinforce what they had learned.”

The National Center for Construction Education and Research Core Training Program was used to teach the students safety practices, welding, electrical, small hand tools, ladder safety and fire extinguisher safety. They also were able to practice on the heavy equipment operator simulators.

During the academy, the students received a full tour of Laurel Ridge, as well as a tour of Mercury Paper’s 600,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Strasburg.

The experience was capped off with each student receiving a certificate and a photo of one of the activities in which they participated. Their parents received information regarding the training opportunities and funding sources available at Laurel Ridge.


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.