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W&M West — James Monroe's Highland

By Tamara Wamsley ’80 November 20, 2017
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On October 14, a gorgeous fall Saturday, alumni from across Virginia enjoyed a day of service at the historic property of Highland — fellow alumnus President James Monroe’s home in Charlottesville, nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The estate is the only U.S. president’s home owned by a university. Alumni local to Highland fondly call the property “William and Mary West” and were excited to collaborate with other chapters in an outdoor service day. By the end of Saturday, alumni had groomed and marked 8+ miles of rustic trails and planted 400 bulbs that will bloom to greet visitors in the spring. 

Alumni from the Charlottesville, Richmond and Washington D.C. chapters, working together and bringing friends and family to share in the experience, made a significant positive impact on the property. Sara Bon-Harper, executive director of Highland, greeted the workers in the morning with an overview of Highland and some of the exciting projects underway at the site. She worked, laughed and sweated with the volunteers to prepare Highland's rustic trail system. The trails will be accessible and free to the public. Launching officially this fall, the trails will attract new visitors to Highland, formerly known as Ashlawn. 

Spanning more than four decades of graduates, volunteers made new friends and rekindled old relationships. Five-month-old Abby, who accompanied her W&M mother and W&M grandparents and is on target to graduate in the Class of 2042, showed us that the spirit of service knows no age limits!  We worked together, shared a meal and left with a great sense of accomplishment.  

Learn about all the excitement at Highland (imbed link) and come visit this W&M property soon. Also, please stay tuned for a springtime opportunity to give back to Highland and to see the bulbs in bloom!