Lanie Landavere

Lanie Landavere

Chronic health issues suffered from childhood not only pointed the way to career interests, but also helped strengthen the virtue of fortitude for scholarship winner, Lanie Landavere. Chronic health problems often trigger anxiety in the people who suffer with them. “My anxiety was expressed physically from an early age. My dentist diagnosed that I was biting my cheeks to cope with anxiety. He helped me overcome this behavior and that changed my life.” From this experience at the age of 12 Lanie has been focused on becoming a Dental Hygienist so she can help others improve their mental health through dental awareness and having a beautiful smile. She is currently working on her Human Anatomy and Physiology and Microbiology courses at NOVA and will be entering the Dental Hygiene program at Hagerstown Community College once her prerequisites are complete. In the meantime, she is working as a dental assistant at Cardinal Park Family Dentistry in Leesburg.

Chronic health issues meant missing school until COVID ended in-person learning. Her homeschooling started, and motivated by the experience of an older brother, Lanie “buckled down” and started taking Dual Enrollment classes through Liberty University’s Online Academy. This past spring Lanie not only graduated from “traditional” high school but received her Associates Degree from Liberty University’s program as well. In addition to her coursework, Lanie participated in Liberty University’s Honor Society and BETA Club where she earned the Student of the Year for her community service work in 2023.

Although school “shut down” during COVID, Lanie’s church did not. She was already engaged in a wide variety of ministries before the pandemic. This gave her the opportunity to not only be with people, but to serve them as well. Her family would regularly go to the Frederick Rescue Mission to provide support to the men who participate in their programs. Working alongside her parents in the organization’s kitchen, Lanie got to know men who were separated from their families because of addiction to drugs, alcohol, or both. “When you serve regularly you get to witness their physical and emotional healing and the joy they have when they can connect with God and their families again.”

Lanie’s parents have inspired her to earn her own money and make her own way financially. Watching them build an insurance agency from the bottom up over the years has taught her the lesson of hard work. In addition to simultaneously earning a high school diploma and an Associate’s Degree, Lanie has worked a forty hour a week plus schedule of retail and restaurant jobs. “Work is teaching me the value of getting along with a wide variety of people. Arriving early and staying on task are some of the ways I make sure I bring value to my jobs.”

With these accomplishments on her resume, it is easy to think that Lanie is a very serious young woman. Balancing all these demands in addition to chronic health issues also developed Lanie’s wonderful sense of humor.

When her mother questioned how many “life skills” she had mastered through her studies and work experience, Lanie sat down and made an amazing list of all the “other things” she knows how to do! Few of our readers can match her list which includes skills as “Making a Bed with Flat Sheets, Changing a Flat Tire, Unclogging a Toilet and Balancing a Checkbook!” With this resume and this list, we are sure that nothing will stop Lanie from accomplishing her future goals! Congratulations Lanie! You make us Lucketts Proud!

For Lanie’s List of Life Skills click here.

Alisa Hart

Alisa Hart

When you hear the term “Horse Whisperer,” it is easy to conjure up an image of a man in his middle years, wearing his Stetson, his boots, and a few weeks’ worth of facial hair. You do not picture the fresh young face of Alisa Hart, accomplished keeper of animals large and small and 2023 Lucketts Ruritan Club Scholarship winner.  But Horse Whisperer she is!  How did this all come about?

Alisa started homeschooling in  second grade, when a broken back made it impossible for her to continue traditional schooling.  Her mother, Vanessa, soon decided to include all her children in the process.  “Learning in the outdoors was a part of every day.  We had nature hikes four seasons of the year and were able to explore places like local museums and parks when no one else was there!”  Alisa and her sisters could combine book learning with hands on projects at home that made subjects come alive.  “We hosted a ‘Greek Banquet’ complete with togas when studying World History.”  And it goes without saying that taking on and caring for animals of all shapes and sizes was much easier to do when learning from home.

The Hart family lived in Sterling when Alisa was in elementary school. Her love of animals started small with rabbits and involvement in a local Rabbit Club. She joined 4-H and was able to expand into raising traditional farm animals in 2015 when the family moved to Taylorstown. “4-H has become my family.  Every year is a long process of getting ready to participate in the Loudoun County Fair in July.”  For Alisa, breeding animals and raising crops has also fueled a deep interest in the natural sciences.  “Learning more and at deeper levels just made the work of farming so much more rewarding.  We exhausted the science classes in most homeschool programs and have been taking higher level classes on-line through Northern Virginia Community College.”  Inevitably, this love of farming and animals led Alisa to caring for and riding horses.

“I have a large passion for horses and for helping owners find a healthy connection with their own horse, helping the pair work through their issues so they can have a softer and safer connection.”  Alisa spent the past eight years in dressage training with Tina Legno at Alivio Farm in Lovettsville, and then with Jacqui Ross at Chapel View Farm in Lucketts.  Watching, listening, and practicing the subtle forms of communication between a horse and a rider in dressage sharpened Alisa’s skills in seeing the disconnect between a rider/owner’s approach and a horse’s temperament.   Alisa works at Chapel View Farm where she can practice this skill.  In 2020, Alisa got her own horse, Aya, a yearling wild Mustang.  She has since gentled, trained, and competed with Aya.  Her work has provided experience in equine farming and behavior management and in sustainable farming and community outreach, which have fueled her interest in sustainable agriculture. After completing her Associate Degree in General Science, she plans to go on for a Bachelors in Environmental Science and then a Masters in Sustainable Agriculture.

4-H gave Alisa the dual experience of being mentored and of mentoring younger members of her Club. She served as an Ambassador for the 4-H Virginia Horse Program which gave her the opportunity to participate in a wide variety of outreach and leadership opportunities. This experience, combined with the discipline of homeschooling, has given her a model of “sustainable learning.”  “I’ve learned that my curiosity does not need to follow a set path to be satisfied.” It is no surprise that Alisa wants to use her education to “teach anyone who wants to listen” about the ways to make agriculture more sustainable.  “Sustainable agriculture connects the local community with its land and brings harmony between the two instead of conflict.” Lucketts is a great place to follow these goals now and into the future!  Congratulations Alisa, we are so proud of your accomplishments and look forward to your future!

Elma Hajric

Elma Hajric

Gratitude is a virtue that most people fail to develop until mid-life.  2023 Lucketts Ruritan Scholarship winner Elma Hajric has mastered the virtue at a tender age.

Elma was born and raised in Leesburg but moved to Lucketts five years ago with her two older sisters and her parents.  Her parents, Mahir and Elmedina Hajric, emigrated to the US from Bosnia in 2001 through the Port of Baltimore with two young daughters and two suitcases.  After living in Baltimore for four months, they moved to an apartment in Leesburg.  The Hajrics were both working but only earning minimum wage rates and had never owned a home.  This qualified them for Loudoun County’s Affordable Dwelling Unit program, and in 2003 they were able to purchase a home in Leesburg.

The Hajrics were from a rural community in Bosnia, and the urban and suburban environments they first encountered did not evoke the experiences of home.  They purchased a home in Lucketts off of New Valley Church Road in 2018 and immediately felt that this, finally, was home. “Neighbors were warm and welcoming from the very first day.  We were surrounded by the natural beauty of Lucketts providing a serenity long lost by my parents.  They were able to have a vegetable garden and even raise chickens!”  Grandparents, aunts, and uncles as well as cousins are all back in Bosnia still and the Hajrics have been able to return for visits. Comparing life for her cousins in Bosnia to her life in Lucketts has developed Elma’s deep spirit of gratitude.

“The most important lesson I have learned from my parents is that if something comes too easily, you are doing something wrong!  Hard work is always required in any worthwhile undertaking!”  Moving to a new school as a freshman and then having the year cut short by COVID provided Elma with many opportunities to test the lesson of hard work!  It was hard to know if you were giving 100% to your schoolwork when remote learning entered the picture.  “It created a real loss of confidence to not have direct interaction with peers and teachers in the classroom.”  Elma found confidence through more time at home with her parents and older sisters during her sophomore year and found some of her teachers were capable mentors.  Elma’s older sisters are both still students themselves.  Dalila graduated from NOVA Community College before enlisting in the US Air Force.  She just obtained a master’s degree from American Military University.  Zijada, the middle sister also graduated from NOVA Community College and has just completed her Bachelor of Arts Degree through Strayer University. All this learning happening in the Hajric’s home during COVID was a blessing for Elma!

It was during her junior year however that Elma was able to fully connect with the Tuscarora community.  Elma is a well-rounded student with and affinity for language and the fine arts.  She was able to be part of creating a magazine for Tuscarora students providing an outlet for student poets and artists.  “This effort has made an impact that will last beyond my time at Tuscarora. “  In addition to the magazine, Elma was a member of the Varsity Lacrosse team, the German, Art and National Honor Societies and the Model United Nations Club.

She works part time at Dick’s Sporting Goods on Edwards Ferry Road and has appreciated the opportunity to work with the public and earn her own money.  “Every day I get to talk to, and problem solve with lots of different people. I’ve learned that I enjoy this kind of responsibility.”

Every school year someone comes to Tuscarora who is new to the school community, who comes from “somewhere else” like Elma did her freshman year. “I would tell them to simply breathe, because the air is different, but it is good!  Open your eyes to see the opportunities all around you and to experience the many kind souls you will find here!”  Well said Elma!

Elma will be living at home and attending Northern Virginia Community College in the fall where she will focus on core courses leading to a university degree in criminal justice or a related field.  (Unless she finds a way to make a living through her fine art talent and love of language and culture!). Congratulations Elma!  Your future is very bright no matter where it takes you.  We are glad you will be in Lucketts a little longer

Mariah Goodwyn

Mariah Goodwyn

Mariah Goodwyn understands that patience is a virtue. She also recognizes that patience needs to be balanced with the spirit of “Carpe Diem!”  And for the last four years she has let that spirit help her seize opportunities in some of the most surprising ways! A three-season athlete, Mariah participates in cross-country, as well as both indoor and outdoor track.  Her love of running will now be connected in pursuit of a most unusual and inspiring career.  Her tenacity and competitiveness are beating a path to future success for herself and her peers as well!

Mariah was exploring the opportunities available to LCPS students through the Academies of Loudoun’s MATA Track as she prepared for her junior year.  MATA (Monroe Advanced Technical Academy) offers students an opportunity for one- and two-year studies in technical fields that can lead to life-time careers. Hoping to study Biomedical Technology, Medical Laboratory Technology or Radiology with her preferences in that order, she was only accepted in the Radiology program.  She was disappointed, but with encouragement from her parents, forged ahead and fell in love with the field of Radiology.

The summer between junior and senior years she was given an opportunity to intern at her pediatrician’s office!  The high rate of RSV cases that summer prompted the closing of the intern program and Mariah was crestfallen, but not defeated. Visiting Washington Radiology, a as a patient, Mariah asked if they had intern programs to support local Radiology students.  They didn’t but ended up creating one due to her interest!  She was able to shadow radiologists and technicians as well as gain exposure to the business side of medical practices.  She connected the Washington Radiology with the Academies and now a formal internship program has been established for future Academies students!  Shannon Logan, Center Director at the Sterling office has become a valued mentor to her.

But Mariah kept running.  Another local business, Synergy Prosthetics and Orthotics, visited the class to demonstrate the application of radiology within the field of prosthetics.  Again, Mariah created opportunity and completed a Capstone project with Mr. Baskin, the Certified Prosthetist who owns the Ashburn practice.  She traveled with Mr. Baskin around the region as he visited and served his patients, learning the social, emotional, and economic issues surrounding the field of prosthetics.  She learned that a high percentage of patients live in poverty.  The combination of technical skill and the ability to impact many underserved communities has inspired her to the goal of becoming a Certified Prosthetist rather than a Radiologist.  “It is a shorter path of schooling compared to medical school, and it gives me an opportunity to own my own business someday.”  Don’t be surprised if you see Mariah on Shark Tank in the future.  And it may be as a shark not as a budding entrepreneur!

The isolation of COVID presented new challenges to Mariah, but she used the time to start her own business – Mariah’s Masks.  “I have a sewing machine and decided I could make masks and sell them on Esty!”  Mariah’s Masks was born on the site and Mariah had a taste of mastering her own financial destiny!

A leader with a heart, Mariah was President of the Husky Buddies Club during her senior year. There was no faculty advisor available to lead the activities, so Mariah stepped in and filled the gap. Husky Buddies is a Club that focused on supporting students who may have a struggle being included in the school community for a wide variety of reasons. She organized a student leadership team and delegated roles to increase events and advertising to build student engagement.  The result – doubled membership in the Club!

Mariah will be going to Wake Forest University where she will focus on studies to prepare her for a future a Prosthetist.  Run run run Mariah!  Continue beating a path for others to follow!

Malachi Bailey

Malachi Bailey

Accomplished athletes have experiences “off the field” that shape their futures as much as their performance statistics.  This happened to Scholarship winner Malachi Bailey several times during his four years at Tuscarora.  In his senior year Malachi was the Captain of BOTH the school’s Football and Basketball teams, but the road to that leadership was paved with obstacles to overcome first.

“Soccer was my ‘gateway’ sport along with flag football in elementary school.  As a Freshman at Tuscarora, I knew may place in student sports was to work hard, prove myself and learn from others.”  Basketball became his main pursuit in middle school, and in high school he transitioned from flag to tackle football.  That spring, after months of performing, COVID ended team practices and competition.  The shut down continued throughout his entire sophomore year.

But the coaches at Tuscarora did not stop engaging with their teams.  “Every day we had a team call with our coach where we worked together on strategies for winning and staying in shape while we were in isolation.  It built us as a team and formed us into a larger family.”  Malachi credits this discipline as the “secret sauce” to the string of competitive accomplishments Tuscarora has experienced after the pandemic.  “Our Basketball team was the first in Tuscarora history to go to the State finals.  We lost but got farther than any Tuscarora team before us.”

Malachi’s world should have returned to a more normal cadence during his junior year, but that’s when his grandfather (who lived in Brooklyn, NY) became seriously ill.  “I had to miss a lot because our family need to go back and forth many times to care for his needs.  It was frustrating and hard to manage for all of us in my family.”  His grandfather died, and Malachi was inspired to see the outpouring of response from his grandfather’s community.  “He was a simple man, but it became clear that he was the ‘go-to guy’ in his community for anyone who needed help.  He had been a leader in the Jamaican Army before he came to the United States, and his leadership skills showed in how he made a difference in his community.”

Before he could complete his college applications, Christopher Newport University came knocking at Malachi’s door.  A good student in addition to being a good athlete, Malachi took advantage of the Dual Enrollment Program available to LCPS students and earned college credits in English, History and Government.  Student life outside of sports involved DECA, leadership in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and leadership in the school’s PEER program.  Through PEER was a Buddy to a student who was interested in videogames but struggled to be part of larger groups of students.  “I offered to play games with her and ended up mastering a game called Madden that connects players from all over the world!  And I became a competitor at this sport too!”  The knock on the door from Christopher Newport will has him headed there in the fall to play football and study pre-law and business.  “The recruitment process with Christopher Newport helped me understand that athletes have options, but really need help taking advantage of them.  Helping athletes manage their careers really appeals to me.”

Memories of his grandfather’s legacy and the support of his parents looms large in Malachi’s future. “My goal is to create a team of athletes that leave a legacy of impact in this world beyond sports. Being able to make an impact makes life about something bigger than ourselves.  It fulfills our essential human need to contribute.”   Well said Malachi and well done! Congratulations on a bright future ahead!

Georgia Malik

Georgia Malick

The Class of 2022 had their high school years seriously interrupted due to the COVID pandemic. For Ruritan Scholarship winner Georgia Malick, there were silver linings in that cloud paving the way to a bright future in Early Childhood Education.

As a freshman Georgia was able to become a Head Start Preschool Helper in the classrooms that operate from Tuscarora High School.  “It was fun, but COVID brought an end to that opportunity.”  As a senior, the program was opened again, and Georgia discovered her passion for working with young children.  “Watching a young child develop and learn as a result of their activity in the preschool classroom is amazing.”  She will attend Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina this fall.

The most difficult thing for Georgia during COVID was the loss of daily structure.  “I need structure in my day, so the first thing I did was find a way to create it.”  Georgia and her father build a room in the attic over their garage, and this became her “classroom” for the duration. “It allowed me to focus on my goals for the day and not get distracted. It was a big help even after we went back to the classroom, especially when it was time to work on college applications!”

Earning her own money and paying her own way has always been important to Georgia so she worked part-time in local restaurants and as a lifeguard.  “Financial literacy is something my mother taught me.  I make a budget and stick to it.  Working while in school has also made me appreciate the need for balance in my life.”  Her studies were never put on the backseat.  By participating in Dual Enrollment programs available through Northern Virginia Community College, Georgia heads to Appalachian State with a full year of college credits that complete the pre-requisite courses for her declared major!

Georgia was also a leader in Tuscarora’s PEER program.  Positive Experiences & Educational Relationships is a class rather than an extra-curricular activity.  You need to apply to the program and participate in building supportive relationships between students. PEER student leaders accompany 5 or 6 students who need support throughout the year. PEER teaches mentoring skills and looks for students who have overcome challenges to participate as leaders.  Georgia had an opportunity to help students from other countries in addition to being new to Tuscarora.  As a member of Rho Kappa, the History Honor Society, Georgia filled her community service requirements by visiting residents at Heritage Hall.  “I still visit a few of the residents I met through this activity.  On Saturday mornings I stop in before work to stay in touch with this community.”

The school’s reputation for community service was a significant factor in Georgia’s choice of Appalachian State.  “I visited and fell in love, not only with the natural beauty that reminded me of home in Lucketts, but with the big heart this school has for serving communities beyond the campus.”  Georgia credit’s her participation in Bethel United Methodist Church on Stumptown Road with her desire to give back to her community.

Congratulations Georgia!  Lucketts is very proud of you!

Madison Grove

Madison Grove

Most people live an entire lifetime and never save another person’s life.  Before graduating from Woodgrove High School in June, Madison Grove already achieved this goal.  As a volunteer Emergency Medical Technician, she logged more than 1000 hours of community service and was trained in basic life saving techniques as part of her certification.  When a patient needed CPR, Madison knew what to do and revived the individual.

She will attend Virginia Commonwealth University this fall with a plan to enter medical school after her undergraduate career.   There is an excellent chance she will achieve that goal since she already has a long list of accomplishments on her resume.

Like her peers, Madison had her middle years of high school interrupted by COVID. In December of 2020 she turned 16 and immediately joined the Loudoun Medical Reserve Corps.  This allowed her to serve in the mass vaccination programs Loudoun County undertook that winter when vaccines were approved and available.  This community service introduced her to the further opportunity to become a volunteer EMT.  Remote learning took less time than classroom learning.  Sports were also out of the picture, so Madison had time to invest in other things. In addition to her service as a volunteer EMT, Madison busied herself with additional online learning.  She has taken on-line courses every summer since the end of her freshman year.  Picking up her mother’s old college textbooks on psychology and neuroscience led her to on-line coursework at American University after her sophomore year. As a result of those courses and through the Horizon Academic Research Program Madison was able to complete an independent study project with a research scientist from the University of Chicago.  She completed a systematic review of neurodegenerative diseases (like Alzheimer’s) under the guidance of this scientist.

Madison had no difficulty keeping herself engaged and learning during COVID but returning to the classroom her junior year was difficult. “I had more anxiety returning to the classroom than I had during remote learning.  I was taking the pandemic very seriously, but some of my peers were not.”  The solution?  “I’m an early riser, and the discipline of running and reading calmed my spirit and got me through the worst of it.”

Living in Lucketts all her life she attended both Lucketts Elementary and Smarts Mill.  Her father is a teacher (Art) at Woodgrove, so commuting with him every day made attending Woodgrove an easy choice. Although science and math come easy to Madison, her father’s colleague in the Art Department, Mr. DeMark was an important connection for her at Woodgrove.  “His classroom was a safe space for me. Although I missed my friends from Smarts Mill and Lucketts Elementary, making friendships in a new school was difficult but important wonderful preparation for college.”

“Growing up in Lucketts made me appreciate the beauty of nature and it’s model of harmony for humans.”  A neighbor, the late Ludlow Clark, was instrumental in the creation of the JK Black Oak Wildlife Sanctuary. Madison volunteers there as well as at the Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship.  She founded the Environmental Club at Woodgrove and leaves it as her legacy for future generations of Woodgrove students.

Congratulations Madison!  You inspire all of us!  We have no doubt you will be a success wherever your years at VCU take you.

Sofia Hardesty

Rachel Berson

Natalie Sher