Temporary Crestline school ready for students (with video)

Open house gives public chance to see new digs

By Susan Parrish, Columbian education reporter


photoKindergartner Jonathan Martinez, 5, looks toward his mother, Esmeralda Martinez, while playing with plastic cubes in his new classroom. In the background, his teacher, Katie Conner, right, talks to his sister Lorena, 16, during the open house for the public to get their first look at the temporary home of Crestline Elementary School.

(/The Columbian)

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When school opens Wednesday, the Crestline Elementary School community will be reunited under one roof, seven months after a fire destroyed their school.

Upcoming Crestline Elementary events

• 4 to 6 p.m. today: Crestline family open house at temporary Crestline Elementary, 18110 S.E. 34th St.

• 4 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 3: Groundbreaking for new Crestline at the site of the original school, 13003 S.E. Seventh St.

After the Feb. 3 fire, classes were divided by grade level at five elementary schools in Evergreen Public Schools.

"The community was torn apart," said John Deeder, the district's superintendent. "Now we're together. We couldn't be happier. It's a great facility."

About 500 Crestline students and 50 staff will spend this school year in a temporary school carved from 68,645 square feet of space in the Hewlett-Packard/SEH America building, 18110 S.E. 34th St.

Working with LSW Architects and Team Construction, the district has created a welcoming learning environment in the cavernous space that once housed high-tech workers.

The public had an opportunity to tour the temporary Crestline Elementary School on Wednesday.

"Hi, sweetie!" said Mary Krzysiak, greeting her former student, Kendra Short, 10.

Kendra and her mom, Reland Short, were touring the school to see where the fifth-grader would spend her last year as a Crestline Lion.

"It feels good because we get to see people from other grades here," Kendra said.

Kellie Morgan, a fourth-grade teacher, was putting finishing touches on her new classroom and preparing to begin her 10th year at Crestline. Like other teachers, she had lost in the fire about 2,000 books and other teaching supplies she had purchased with her own money during her career.

In Morgan's new classroom, bookshelves held 1,500 books she's gathered since the fire. Teachers at Shahala Middle School donated

More about Crestline

Temporary school

• Footprint: 68,645 square feet.

• Cost of tenant improvements: About $16 per square foot.

• 100 percent of costs covered by insurance.

• Contractor: Team Construction.

• Architect: LSW.

Crestline Elementary timeline

• Feb. 3: School burns

• Remainder of school year: Crestline community divided among five Evergreen district elementary schools.

• 2013-14 school year: District sets up temporary Crestline at Hewlett-Packard/SEH America building, 18110 S.E. 34th St.

• 2014-15 school year: Rebuilt Crestline opens at site of burned school.

books, supplies and proceeds from their book fair to Crestline teachers. Morgan also received a stack of gift cards to Barnes & Noble and Amazon. She posted her Amazon wish list on Facebook, and donated books started arriving from all over the U.S. and from as far away as Germany.

In another wing of the temporary school, Steve Moebs, the general music teacher, welcomed siblings Brissa Campos, 9, who is a fourth-grader, and second-grader Ariel Campos, 6, to the school's new music room.

After the fire when students were spread out at five schools, he wasn't able to continue teaching music to all Crestline students. Now he will teach each Crestline class twice per week.

"You get all your old teachers back," Moeb told the Campos children. "We're all here."

Judith Campos, the children's mother, said she was "relieved" to have both children attending the same school. After the fire, Brissa was at Riverview Elementary and Ariel attended Ellsworth Elementary. That posed a dilemma when an event called "Muffins with Mom" was scheduled at both schools on the same day and time. She could only attend one event.

"This is not a slap-up, temporary place," Moeb said. "It feels like a real school."

'A time to celebrate'

The new music room has a new piano, a class set of ukuleles and colorful African hand drums.

"I didn't have any worries that it wouldn't come together," said Sue Steinbrenner, director of facilities for Evergreen Public Schools. "The most amazing thing is the huge effort with everyone working together. It makes you feel good about the community we live in."

Although teachers have made their classrooms welcoming with colorful bulletin boards, books and fresh flowers on the tables, finishing touches still need to be completed before the first day of school on Sept. 4. Empty boxes were stacked along a wall in a hallway. Several teachers had left notes for the construction crew on their doors and walls. Beth Lawson had left several notes in her fifth-grade classroom. "Dear fabulous builders, is it possible to put two coat racks on this wall above another? Thank you very much!"

"We pulled it off," Bobbi Hite, Crestline principal, said as she stood in the new school library.

"Today was the first day back with teachers," Hite said. "It was a difficult spring, so today was a time to celebrate all we have to look forward to. We have a sense of excitement to get back to learning. Get back to normal. We're looking forward to next Wednesday."

Susan Parrish: 360-735-4515; http://twitter.com/Col_Schools;susan.parrish@columbian.com