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Charles Barrett Elementary School celebrates 80 years in Alexandria

A tree planting commemorating the 80th anniversary of Charles Barrett Elementary School, Oct. 25, 2023 (staff photo by James Cullum)

World War II was at its peak when Charles Barrett Elementary School first opened 80 years ago. In recognition of the anniversary, on Wednesday students and school officials gathered in front of the school, planted a baby oak tree and sang the school song.

The tree was donated by the North Ridge Citizens’ Association.

“There are so many people who have made our school community the awesome place for learning that is today,” said Principal Loren Brady, who has been at the school for four years. “Charles Barrett has the deep roots in the community that has helped to support us with useful energy.”

The school was built to accommodate the children living in the ParkFairfax development, which was built to relieve a wartime housing shortage, according to Alexandria City Public Schools. It opened with four teachers and 40 students.

“The school opened on Oct. 25, 1943, with desks and chairs borrowed from other schools,” according to ACPS. “Three weeks after classes began the Alexandria School Board voted unanimously to name the school after Major General Charles Dodson Barrett of the United States Marine Corps, an Alexandrian who was killed in the South Pacific on Oct. 8, 1943.”

The school expanded over the decades and now has 544 students.

“I’m so excited for you in your school community on this big moment,” School Board Member Ashley Simpson Baird said at the tree planting. “I know that Charles Barrett will be here for many, many more years to come and we look forward to all the great work you continue to do.”

Brady said that the school will celebrate the anniversary all year, and that school history is included in this year’s curriculum.

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