Crestline rises from the ashes

School destroyed in 2013 fire ready to welcome students in September

By Susan Parrish, Columbian education reporter



If you go

■ What: Crestline Elementary School dedication and ribbon cutting.

■ When:

11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 27.

■ Where: 13003 S.E. Seventh St., Vancouver.

■ Speaker: Gov. Jay Inslee.

■ RSVP to this email.

Although crews are putting finishing touches on the new Crestline Elementary, teachers and staff are moving into the new school only 18 months after it was destroyed by arson.

The Feb. 3, 2013, fire displaced about 500 students and 50 staff members.

"Here we are — ready to open our new school," said Bobbi Hite, principal at Crestline Elementary. "I had to know this was coming to get through the craziness. The biggest piece is that we're in our community again. Our kids can walk to school."

Hite toured the building Thursday morning with school board members and district administrators.

Evergreen Public Schools broke ground on the new school six months after the fire.

"We shaved almost seven months from the design/build process," said Sue Steinbrenner, the district's director of facilities.

As the new school took shape at the location of the fire, neighbors stopped by the construction site often, said Greg Scott, construction superintendent for Skanska, the project's lead contractor.

"I can't imagine a neighborhood more in tune with a project," Scott said. "We had so many street superintendents. The whole community excitement was pretty cool."

Immediately after the fire, students and staff were divided by grade level at five elementary schools in the district for the remainder of the 2012-2013 school year.

Last school year, the district set up a temporary Crestline Elementary at the former Hewlett-Packard campus in a business park about four miles east of the school.

Last school year the district purchased new playground equipment for the temporary school. It's already set up at the new school. A thick layer of fresh wood chips has been spread underneath the playground equipment constructed from recycled milk jugs.

It's ready for the Crestline Lions to return on Sept. 3, the first day of school.

Gov. Jay Inslee will speak at the public dedication of the new school at 11 a.m. Aug. 27.