IT was with heavy hearts and heavier school bags that students and parents walked through the gates of Mowbray College for the final time last Wednesday.
Students of the collapsed school, which had two campuses in Caroline Springs and one in Melton, released hundreds of balloons on the Wednesday in a manner that parents described as a celebration as much as it was a farewell.
Click on the image below for our gallery of Mowbray College's last day.
But reluctant pupils left the school yard only after many tears, embraces and shared memories.
"It looks like we'll just use your blazers for dress-up clothes," mother Sheryl Murgo said to her two girls, Nicola and Isabel.
Those who remained after the final balloons were released said the final day of the school had been surreal. Mowbray was placed into voluntary administration after racking up $18million debt.
"It has been dreadful ... 30 years of history, it's such a shame. It's not as though Melton can afford to lose any schools," Mrs Murgo said.
The college will remain open for years11 and 12 students enrolled in the VCE and International Baccalaureate diploma until the end of the current term.
Caroline Springs parents Karina and Mick Prodan said they had been fortunate enough to enrol their boys into another school, but their final day at Mowbray was still heartbreaking.
Nicholas and Jack Prodan's grandmother Margaret Brown, who often picked the boys up from the Patterson campus in Melton, said she was bitterly disappointed.
"They may say it is, but this is not a business. It is about teenage lives. I know businesses go broke, but this is something that's completely out of the blue. You'd think they would give us a chance, even to resurrect something. It happened too quickly. We were told on Friday the school would be closed on Wednesday."
Mrs Prodan said she and her husband were angry that the school's board members were not open
with families after rumours surfaced 12 months ago. She said the truth had to be uncovered "so this never happens again."
Administrator Jim Downey hoped a community campaign might lead to the school being reopened as a new entity, similar to the way the former ICA college in Caroline Springs was reopened as Southern Cross Grammar last July.
But last Wednesday, parents doubted they would send their children back to the school.
"Mowbray how it was ... has gone," Mr Prodan said. "It will never be the way it was set up in [founder] Allan Patterson's vision."