School History

Cherry Run Elementary School opened on August 29, 1983. Our first principal was Elaine H. Smith. Cherry Run was originally built as an “open classroom” school with three large classroom spaces called pods. Like spokes on a wheel, the pods surrounded the library at the center of our building. Entrance ramps led down from the circular hallway around the library into each of the pods.

Black and white yearbook photograph of a small group of students working around a table with a teacher.
Cherry Run Students, 1983-84. Teachers frequently made use of portable partitions to create separate areas in the pods for small group instruction.

According to Principal Smith, it was “nip and tuck” getting Cherry Run ready for opening day. Construction crews were still laying carpet the weekend before teachers arrived, but aside from a few finishing touches the building was ready when students arrived. Take a moment to look through the slideshow below to learn more about the construction of our school and to read about its dedication.

What’s in a Name?

Did you know that students chose the name of our school? According to our first principal, when the time came to give Cherry Run Elementary School a name the community was asked for suggestions. 44 names were put forward by community members and the majority of students liked the name Cherry Run. This top pick was put forward to the Fairfax County School Board for consideration and, in March 1983, the School Board officially named our school Cherry Run.

Photograph of workmen planting a tree and shrubs in raised bed in the middle of the sidewalk at Cherry Run Elementary School.
Cherry trees were planted in beds along the sidewalk in front of Cherry Run Elementary School.
Photograph of the front of Cherry Run Elementary School. The cherry trees are fully grown and are in bloom.
This picture taken in 2000, shows the row of cherry trees in front of our building. During our most recent renovation, a new entrance and offices were constructed in this area.

Learn about the origin of our school's name in this video produced for Fairfax County Public Schools’ cable television channel Red Apple 21.

Opening a New School

When Cherry Run Elementary School opened many of our students transferred over from Burke Elementary School. Burke Elementary had opened in January 1940, and was being phased out as an elementary school. Art teacher Melanie Rodas, a former Cherry Run student, was one of the children who transferred to Cherry Run from Burke. She shared some memories from her time as a student at our school.

We didn’t have weekly Art classes. A parent or staff member would come in maybe once a month and do a craft with us. Music was in the trailers in the third grade and being a child with tubes in my ears, the sound of recorders in a trailer was very painful. But our music teacher who nicknamed herself The Refrigerator (after the football player of the time) was so animated and lively that she made singing and dancing feel like a party. The gym looked similar to how it is now. Towards the end of class the gym teacher, Mr. Underwood, would sometimes play Ghost in the Graveyard—a game brought over from Burke school—where we would all lie still on the ground and see who could stay still the longest. Now as a teacher I think he probably needed us to calm down before heading back to class, but as a kid it was treat to play that game! 
~ Melanie Rodas, Art Teacher and Former Student
Black and white yearbook photograph of students sitting on the floor in the library. They are looking up at a teacher who is holding open a book and reading it to them.

Our Mascot

Ms. Rodas also recounted that students were allowed to vote on a school mascot. Students wanted to be the Cherry Run Cheetahs, but Cherry Run Cardinals was chosen instead, as she recalls being told, because cheetahs sounded too similar to “cheaters.” Cardinals was a fitting choice because these beautiful red birds nest in the woods near our school and are a common sight in the area.

Photograph of a painting of two cardinals sitting on the branch of a cherry tree in front of Cherry Run Elementary School.
Did you know that the northern cardinal was adopted as the state bird of Virginia in 1950?


Photograph of Cherry Run’s cardinal mascot reclining on a bench in front of the school. The bench is surrounded by smiling students.
The cardinal mascot costume pictured above was graciously donated to our school by the principal of Clifton Elementary School when that school closed in 2011.

My Favorite Day

Every student has one – one of those special days during the school year that leaves an indelible impression on the memory. 

Jennifer Dixon, our physical education teacher, came to Cherry Run in 1985 as a kindergartener and remained at our school through the sixth grade. Her favorite day was Field Day. She says Field Day was run like a mini Olympic Games. The entire student body lined the field in the morning and two students ran with torches around the field as the students and staff cheered them on to start the “games.” 

They would give out ribbons for first, second and third place for the different events. Some of the events included a sack race, Frisbee throw, and the pursuit relay. The pursuit relay was a group of the four fastest students from each class to run the race. We also had a tug of war with a big rope!
~ Jennifer Dixon, P.E. Teacher and Former Student
Black and white photograph of two students climbing ropes in the gymnasium.
Were you able to climb to the top of the rope?

The Making of Mayberry

Within a few short years of opening, enrollment at Cherry Run swelled to more than 1,200 students, necessitating the use of a modular classroom addition and six Parko trailers.  The overcrowding eased with the opening of Sangster Elementary School in September 1988.

Black and white yearbook photograph of a group of Cherry Run students playing clarinets.

Like today, many of the students enrolled at Cherry Run over the years have come from military-connected families. Other families put down roots in the area, and now we are educating the children of former Cherry Run students.

A teacher in the building who everybody really loved was Mrs. Patchan. She was my sister’s fun and enthusiastic kindergarten teacher. Every day before and after school you would see her former students line up outside her door to stop by and give her hugs. When I came back to CRES as a teacher 30 years later, Mrs. Patchan was my daughter’s teacher. She was still just as loved.
~Melanie Rodas, Art Teacher

Our fourth principal, Steve Gossin, likened Cherry Run to Mayberry, the fictional small town from the Andy Griffith television series of the 1960s. There is a strong sense of community and family at Cherry Run that dates back to our earliest days. The Parent Teacher Association (PTA) has always been very supportive and invested in our school. Former principal Elaine Smith recounted that one of her fondest memories of Cherry Run was the strong community spirit that formed during our first year and how smoothly the relationships between teachers and families came together. Instructional Assistant Regina Galie said:

I officially came to Cherry Run in 1992 but my son started at Cherry in 1987. Just a few years after the school opened.  I have lived in the neighborhood since 1987 and I absolutely adore my community and its members. There are many wonderful things about Cherry Run that I remember but what stands out the most is the dedicated staff and sense of family that I have felt for all these years!
~ Regina Galie, Instructional Assistant
Yearbook photograph of six upper-grade students standing behind a time capsule. The capsule is approximately three feet long, is white in color, and is shaped like a football.
The Cherry Run Time Capsule, 2000-01.

The New Millenium

In the fall of 2001, a new playground was dedicated much to the delight of students.

Three photographs of students and the new playground. The center photograph was taken during the playground’s dedication. A large group of students is standing on the playground listening to a speech.

From 2002 to 2012, student enrollment slowly declined from to approximately 560 to 480 pupils. In June 2014, Cherry Run students, staff, and families celebrated our school’s 30th anniversary. After a performance by the band, 30 students were each handed a balloon. The balloons were numbered 1983 to 2013, and students took turns reading facts about our school’s history.

Yearbook photograph of two safety patrol officers raising the American flag in front of Cherry Run Elementary School.

In the spring of 2016, Cherry Run’s long-awaited renovation got underway. The building underwent significant changes at this time; 23,000 square feet of new classroom and office space was added and all existing spaces were renovated and modernized.

Aerial view of Cherry Run Elementary School during renovation.
June 20, 2017
Aerial view of Cherry Run Elementary School during renovation.
January 20, 2018

Fun Fact

The old Cherry Run sign pictured below was created by Robert Daski, Jr. as an Eagle Scout project.

Two photographs of a large wooden sign that reads Cherry Run Elementary School, A Fairfax County Public School, Established 1983. Flanking the name Cherry Run are two cardinals, perched on cherry tree branches.

The Margaret Linscott Library

Cherry Run Elementary School’s library is named in honor of Margaret Linscott, a former educational secretary at our school. Ms. Linscott was a warm and caring individual who met the needs of students, staff members, and parents on a daily basis. She made all visitors to our school feel welcome. Students, staff members, and the community lobbied the School Board to name our library after Ms. Linscott in recognition of her dedication and devotion to Cherry Run.

Black and white photograph of Margaret Linscott from Cherry Run’s 1984 to 1985 yearbook.
Margaret Linscott, 1985.

Our Principals

For additional information, read our School History Sources.