- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 15, 2002

Dogwood Elementary School administrators in Reston, Va. greeted lines of students wearing winter coats, backpacks and smiles as they walked into their new school yesterday, more than a year after a fire gutted the old one.
"We're so excited that we're back home," said Ashia Parks, 8. "It's prettier than I've ever seen before. We have new things and new supplies."
As he looked up at the large $11 million brick building with a green roof, Clint Bouttavong, 7, said, "It looks like a high school to me."
Clint's father said he appreciated the 5-minute walk, compared with the hourlong commute to an interim school in Fairfax City.
About 550 children were divided between two other area schools after Dogwood burned down Nov. 27, 2000.
"It's the most high-tech school in Fairfax County. Yes, as parents, we're very excited," said Ashia's mother, Pamela Carson. "I can't wait for PTA, and I can't wait for a tour."
Mrs. Carson also said she feels safer with her daughter closer. She said the drive to Green Acres Elementary School to pick up her children was long.
Construction of the 98,000-square-foot state-of-the-art building took 11 months. The old Dogwood school was covered by insurance, but the construction crews could not begin until the fire investigation was complete. Investigators concluded that a failure in the electrical wiring caused the blaze.
Students' first stop was the cafeteria to meet their teachers. There, they were greeted by a sign that said "Welcome Dogwood Dragons."
"Before today, it was just a building," said Fairfax County School Board Chairman Stuart Gibson. "Now that the teachers and students are here, it's a school."
Parents can tour the school Jan. 28 at an open house from 3 to 6 p.m.

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