FIVE YEARS ON since the push to upgrade Hepburn Shire's only secondary school first began, construction at the newly re-branded Daylesford College is finally complete.
The upgrades include new science laboratories, a technology block and music room as well as a new library and VCE centre, complete with separate study spaces.
The three new buildings wrap around a landscaped area - which is not yet completed - but for now, a chess club being hosted in the new school library is rapidly gaining membership.
A push for upgrades to the school began in 2014 when parents touring the school with their primary school aged children were shocked by the state of disrepair of the buildings.
"No work had been done in 30 years," parent Jen Bray said.
Parents lobbied both state Labor and Liberal candidates to promise funds to upgrade the school in the lead up to the 2014 state election, supported by Hepburn Shire Council and the wider community.
Labor won the 2014 election and so the school was given $10 million towards the upgrades.
Works were marked to begin in 2016 but a devastating fire in the middle of the night on December 28, 2015 -caused by an electrical fault - destroyed one wing of the school.
Read more: High school fire an accident
A computer lab, careers centre and science rooms were destroyed and irreparable damage was done to the school library in the fire which saw 21 Country Fire Authority appliances respond to in order to get the blaze under control.
Historical memorabilia, photos and the school's hall of fame, including photos and information of the school's Rhodes Scholar, were all lost in the blaze.
The fire accelerated the demolition process but since works began, students have been forced to learn in the midst of a noisy construction site as old buildings were demolished to make way for the new.
Read more: Premier visits school ahead of build
The school council played a key role in guiding the process of the build with former president Tim Ferrier, who recently stepped down, playing an instrumental part in the development and delivery of the construction process in working with architects and builders.
Now the buildings are completed, the whole school community including students, parents and teachers are pleased with the school's new facilities.
"The new rooms have a great feel. It's more open and light with classrooms opening out on to the garden," Ms Bray said.
School council representative Claire O'Connor said the re-development offered teachers and students a better working and learning environment that they could be proud of. This was echoed by Principal Stephen MacPhail, who said the new buildings meant the school could provide more learning wise.
"I am getting a lot of enquiries from students outside of our zone who want to come here," he said. "It has a different feel to the place now. The same teaching and learning happens here but everybody is happier with the new facilities."
He said the school's fresh new look had seen numbers grow with enrolments already back up up to 500 students.
The rebuild has been a slow process but rather than opting for pre-fabricated buildings, the new buildings are crafted with recycled bricks and chunky, recycled timbers.
"The look is very Daylesford. It may have taken longer, but it is very solid and will stand for many years to come," Mr MacPhail said.
The completion of construction comes at a time the school is re-shaping its identity with a new name, new school colours and a re-branded look that was created through consultation with the school community. Mr MacPhail said the new motto, "Shape the Future", was fitting.
The community is invited to attend an official unveiling of the school on Wednesday, May 29 from 4.30pm.
Read more: Stage one of school upgrade unveiled
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