Cowwarr school back home after fire

Kate Withers

LITTLE more than a month after fire gutted Cowwarr Primary School on the first day of the new school year, staff and students have returned to their beloved school grounds.

Balloons adorned the two new state-of-the-art portables on Tuesday as the school’s 23 students resumed classes on Church St.

Principal Albie Fitt praised the school community for the way it had handled the disruption.

“I would imagine in a lot of places something like a fire could pull the whole place to pieces … but we haven’t had anyone even think of moving anywhere else,” he said.

“It’s been a stressful time for all of us – it’s been really difficult.

“It’s something I wouldn’t want to go through again.

“When disaster strikes, it’s very personal.

“It’s been a very emotional journey that we were on and are still on.”

Heyfield Primary School was a makeshift home for Cowwarr Primary School staff and students for four weeks while the new classrooms and administration building were put in place.

“People are really surprised,” Mr Fitt said.

“The parents are kind of a bit gobsmacked by the fact that it’s so magnificent – it’s just so beautiful.

“We had a nice time at Heyfield, and in fact the kids really linked up closely, so we’ll keep a bit of a link there now, which is really nice.”

Mr Fitt, who is also a musician, wrote a new school song for Heyfield Primary School staff and students as a heartfelt thanks for their hospitality.

“We all sang that together as one big group in our last assembly, and that was nice and there was a nice feeling there,” he said.

“Schools can be quite competitive and we shouldn’t be.

“… it’s been good for these kids that they could go and see that in a big school there are normal nice people.

“They can still come back here and have their little school, but still connect with people outside the school.

“… [Heyfield] were really hospitable; they were fantastic.”

While the extended excursion to Heyfield was a positive experience, Mr Fitt said it was “really important” for staff and students to return to Cowwarr.

“We needed to get back here because I think the heart of our community is here,” he said.

“We had a group assembly with all the kids and all the parents [on Tuesday] and talked about how we’re back together in our normal space.”

Mr Fitt said the school community was happy the Education Department had provided a good facility while it waited for a permanent facility.

A fund has been set up to help the Cowwarr school community rebuild more permanently and replace valuables that were lost in the blaze like computers, robotic equipment and a 3D printer.

“We’ve got some of it, but … we had so much stuff,” he said.

“We’re still waiting on our technology to come and we’re still waiting to get the internet back up and running.

“But we’ll get there.”