Just like an episode from a backyard makeover program, hundreds of workers, teachers and parents have worked against the clock to build a school on a soccer pitch in just 13 days.
Mt Lawley Primary School children woke on the first Sunday of the school holidays two weeks ago to the news their historic school had been gutted by an arson attack half-way through its centenary year.
Education Department officials pledged at an emotional community meeting that morning that each of the 500 students would have a desk on the first day of term, though they could not say where.
Two days later, the Mt Lawley Senior High School oval that many tearful parents and children traipsed across to get to the meeting was chosen to house the students until their new school is built in 2014. A crane was on site the next morning.
And by yesterday, brand-new desks were stocked with books and pencils ready for the first day of the next chapter in the school's history.
Building managers say they have never attempted a project of such magnitude with such stringent time frames.
The department's principal project officer for facilities program delivery Peter Pustkuchen, who has worked 15 days straight, said it had been a huge team effort by three different firms.
"It generally takes us two weeks to put one transportable on," he said.
"Here we've put 22 buildings on site in less than two weeks. It was a massive undertaking."
He said the tradesmen put in much longer hours than usual because they knew what the students had been through and wanted to make sure they did not miss a day of their education.
Workers put in the last minute touches yesterday, laying turf and hanging welcome signs.
Teachers and parent helpers arranged books on desks, pinned up posters and stuck children's names under schoolbag hooks.
Students who stopped by for a sneak peek at their new classrooms said they were surprised at how quickly the school had been built.
Year 4 student Ruby Gregory, 10, said she could not wait for classes to start today. "I'm excited that everything's new and there are no more wobbly desks," she said.
Parent Gary Mann said he had expected that students would have been spread across other schools for several months while construction took place.
"To put something like this together in two weeks is just amazing," he said.
Teacher Elizabeth Gibbs said it had been overwhelming to go from the gut-wrenching emotion of losing irreplaceable resources in the fire, to having a bright new classroom.
Donations have flooded in from the wider community, including thousands of dollars worth of stationery and even a piano.
Principal Don Barba said he was proud of the enormous effort put in by everyone to get a temporary school built less than two weeks after seeing the original one engulfed by flames.
"This would never have been possible without our department and the City of Stirling and countless people," he said.
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