For aspiring park ranger Jackson McCoy, having his Civil War-themed LEGO creations chosen for display at the American Civil War Museum is especially exciting.
The Laurel Ridge student has been a LEGO enthusiast since the age of 4, and was contacted by the museum asking to borrow his depictions of the Battle of Spotsylvania and Gen. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox for temporary display at the museum’s locations in Richmond and Appomattox.
“They were wondering if I wanted to display the battlefield in their lobby,” said McCoy, who attends yearly symposiums at the museum. “I was over the moon. It’s a very, very unique and wonderful opportunity. I’ve got my custom LEGO creations at a museum that I’ve respected for years, and now the public is getting to see it right before they walk in.”
The Luray resident plans to earn his associate degree in general studies and has Gettsyburg College in his sights.
“I want to join the U.S. Parks Service,” said McCoy, who is a tour guide at Luray Caverns.
His goal is to be an interpretive park ranger at a battlefield park or a museum.
McCoy was homeschooled, graduating from high school in 2022. He started dual enrollment at Laurel Ridge while a senior, and also took online classes on the Civil War through Columbia University, as well as online English courses, partway through high school.
“I think taking those classes earlier on in high school really helped me be set up for success at Laurel Ridge,” said McCoy who is an online student at the college. “Being homeschooled, most of my work was all on me throughout high school.”
McCoy explained he was responsible for educating himself through high school, and that has benefited him.
So far, McCoy’s favorite class at Laurel Ridge has been one on U.S. history through 1865, taught by Stephen DiNello.
“I took it at the same time as a friend,” he said. “It was a heck of a lot of reading, and we wrote down our thoughts. I just thought it was fun really being able to summarize that history. I really think it helped me.”
Growing up, McCoy said, the former site of the Luray-Page County Center served as an inspiration – it was right down the street from his grandmother’s house.
“We kind of always theorized that once I graduated high school, I’d be able to walk from my grandmother’s house and go to college there,” he said. “It was always this great opportunity here in Luray. Not everybody has access to a community college a mile away from their house.”
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.