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Posted at 02:49 PM ET, 12/14/2011

The 10 most-read local stories of 2011

From the East Coast earthquake to yet another tragic shooting at Virginia Tech, 2011 had no shortage of surprises in the news. And you were there with us as we covered each one; these are your 10 most-read stories of the year from the District, Maryland and Virginia.

Take a look back through the top headlines of the past 12 months with the list of PostLocal’s 10 most-read stories of the year.

1. East Coast earthquake

At 1:51 p.m. on Aug. 23, a 5.8-magnitude earthquake centered in Virginia rattled the eastern third of the United States. No one was killed or seriously injured, but the rare tremor effectively shut down the nation’s capital, damaged D.C.’s older buildings and monuments, and freaked out tens of millions of people. Relive the confusion with these photos of the quake’s aftermath.

2. Sean Lanigan, a teacher falsely accused

Sean Lanigan. (Jahi Chikwendiu - The Washington Post)
In 2010, Fairfax County teacher Sean Lanigan was accused of molesting one of his students. The 12-year-old girl, it turned out, had made the story up. But, as the Post’s Tom Jackman found out in May, “her accusations launched a soul-sapping rollercoaster ride” that, more than a year later, had not ended.

3. Robocall revenge

After a rude awakening early one morning in January by an automated “snow day” call from his children’s school, a Prince George’s father decided to turn the tables on the school board with his own pre-dawn message.

4. Hurricane Irene

Spared by a powerful earthquake, the East Coast was pummeled by Hurricane Irene just days later. The heavy winds and rain left more than a million homes and businesses in the Washington area without power or phone service, and the ensuing floods proved fatal. See photos of the destruction here.

5. Georgetown basketball brawl

Georgetown and China's Bayi basketball teams brawl. (Reuters)
In August, Georgetown’s men’s basketball team made headlines worldwide after an ugly, bench-clearing, chair-throwing brawl broke out between the Hoyas and China’s Bayi Military Rockets in Beijing. Post columnist Sally Jenkins explained why the flammable situation was ripe with peril right from the start.

6. Shots fired at Virginia Tech

In a scenario eerily reminiscent of the 2007 rampage that left 33 dead, December’s shooting on the Virginia Tech campus claimed the lives of a a campus police officer, 39-year-old Deriek W. Crouse, and his killer.

7. Young D.C. principal quits and tells

Bill Kerlina loved his students at Phoebe Hearst Elementary in Northwest D.C. He even loved their parents. What he didn’t love, and what prompted him to quit his job, was the dysfunction of D.C.’s public school system that left him fed up and burned out.

David Broder. (Kim Arrington Oster - THE WASHINGTON POST)
8. David Broder dies at 81.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for The Washington Post and one of the most respected writers on national politics for four decades, died March 9 in Arlington of complications from diabetes.

9. What happened to Theodoric C. James?

He served 10 presidents but died alone in squalor. Could James’s death have been prevented?

10. Number of black D.C. residents plummets.

Census numbers released in March revealed that the District’s black residents are on the verge of losing their majority status in the city for the first time in half a century.

What event will you remember most? Tell us in the comments or on Twitter using the hastag #2011timecapsule.

More Best of 2011 coverage:

The year’s most defining moments

Notable deaths of 2011

The biggest sports moments of the year

By  |  02:49 PM ET, 12/14/2011

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