Seven months to the day that Crestline Elementary School was destroyed by a three-alarm fire on Feb. 3, the district officially broke ground on the new Crestline being built at the fire site. About 100 students, parents, teachers and community members turned out at the fire site for the Tuesday groundbreaking.
"It's unheard of to break ground only seven months after a fire," said Tim Baugus, vice president of construction for Skanska USA Building Inc., the project's contractor. "The school burning down was tragic. But now the community will get a new school with all-new technology to serve the community for years and years."
New Crestline Elementary School
• Where: Site of the original school, 13003 S.E. Seventh St.
• Opens: September 2014.
• District: Evergreen Public Schools.
• Contractor: Skanska USA Building.
• Designer: LSW Architects.
• Design: Modeled after the district’s last four elementary schools, including Endeavour Elementary, 2701 N.E. Four Seasons Lane, with site adaptations.
• Green building: Exceeds the Washington Sustainable School Protocol, a green building standard that will save in operational costs with minimal impact to construction cost.
• Money: 100 percent of construction cost will be paid using a combination of money from the School Construction Assistance Program (state match) and proceeds from insurance.
In the background, heavy equipment worked to prepare ground for the new school, scheduled to open in September 2014.
"I know seeing this relieves our community's anxiety," said Bobbi Hite, Crestline principal. "We're going to open on time next year."
"We wanted to break ground before the weather turned," Sue Steinbrenner, the district's director of facilities, said. "We're right on track."
"I met with Crestline staff this morning," John Deeder, the district superintendent, said Tuesday. "They're in a great place now (at the temporary school) but they're excited to get their school back."
After the February fire, students and staff were divided by grade and temporarily hosted by five other elementary schools in the district for the remainder of the school year. Today, the Crestline kids will start their new school year at what is being referred to as the "temporary Crestline" in the former Hewlett-Packard facility.
Isabella Derasmo, 6, who will start first grade at Crestline on Wednesday, Sept. 4, stood at the construction site with her family.
"She's starting first grade and she's already been to three schools," said her grandmother, Donna Bart.
Isabella's younger sister, Brianna Derasmo, 5, will start kindergarten at the temporary Crestline on Wednesday.
Greg Scott, the project's construction superintendent at Skanska USA Building, works at the construction site daily and said he's met many Crestline neighbors.
"I meet people coming up to the fence to see what's happening," Scott said. "Everybody's excited."
Sydney Jessup, 7, who has been a Crestline Lion since kindergarten, starts second grade at the temporary school Wednesday. On the day of the fire, Sydney, her mother, Mari Jessup, and her older sister, Chloe Jessup, 11, who attends Wy'east Middle School, stood across from the school as firefighters extinguished the fire.
On Tuesday, Sydney stood with her family again at her school site. But as they watched the heavy equipment working, Sydney said, "I feel really happy."