WEST, Texas (KXAN) - The first day of school will mark a new beginning for the West Independent School District.
Aerial images of the damaged middle school and high school were some of the most memorable after the fertilizer plant explosion on April 17, 2013.
Now, less than four months later the debris has been cleared to make way for new portable classrooms.
A construction zone is cornered off with a chain link fence around the area middle school and high school students will share.
Maintenance crews hauled in new desks on a trailer Tuesday and placed them inside a classroom. Across the way, construction crews worked on a temporary gymnasium the district is calling the "Tro-Dome", short for Trojan Dome, named after their mascot.
"I’m actually really surprised that they’re coming along this far," said senior Ashton Crawford. "I thought it was going to take forever and that we might have to go to another school but its been really fast and I’m really thankful for that."
Crawford is on the varsity volleyball team which started practicing last week. She and her teammates boarded the bus Tuesday for their first game of the season.
"We don’t really talk about [the blast]. We’re definitely moving forward from it because we don’t want to be remembered for the volleyball team that had to go through the explosion," said Crawford.
There are signs of moving forward at the football stadium, too. New sod was rolled out and crews are scraping the bleachers to add a coat of fresh paint before the first home game.
Some of the most amazing gifts of all are sitting in an old lumber yard in downtown West.
"Right now we're telling people don't even bring school supplies to school," said West ISD Administrator Jan Hungate.
Employees have been busy sorting boxes full of donated backpacks, pencils, pens, rulers, colored chalk, highlighters, paper, scissors and tape -- just to name a few things -- and distributing them to classrooms.
All of the items came pouring in by the truckload after the explosion. One of the first deliveries came from a Central Texas school district that knows tragedy first hand.
"One of the first donations we got was from Bastrop ISD and it was hand sanitizer and disinfectant," said Hungate.
Inside the one campus untouched by the blast, West Elementary, is a classroom packed with donated backpacks that are being organized by grade.
Down the hall fourth grade Language Arts teacher Lois Leggett is getting her room ready. She used teach on the Intermediate campus until the explosion. Next to her desk is a brick from the site with the date of the tragedy written across the front in permanent marker. She also added the name of every employee.
"It will stay right here on the shelf," said Leggett. "It's important for me to remember everyone that was there because some people had to move on because there wasn’t really a place for them anymore after the school was destroyed."
With less than two weeks to go until the first day of school, West ISD has no doubt they will be ready to go.
"It's going to be a photo finish, but absolutely it can happen and we are completely dedicated to that goal," said Hungate.
The freezing and near-freezing rain that swooped into Central Texas overnight prompted numerous school closings and delays and made for a harrowing morning commute on Friday.
Cold temperatures forecast for Saturday morning have prompted Georgetown officials to cancel the parade associated with the annual Christmas Stroll. The Stroll, however, will go on.
A Lago Vista couple faces child endangerment charges after authorities found their home covered in feces and garbage.
A man is charged with murder in the shooting death Wednesday of a woman at a North Austin auto repair shop, police said Friday.
It's the first criminal charge following a yearlong criminal investigation into the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas.
The man who fell into a flood control channel and drowned last month was identified Friday as 57-year-old Ronald M. Allen.