IT WAS certainly the ultimate school show and tell piece. The vintage money box meant to impress a group of classmates turned out to be something quite different - a World War II grenade.
Bomb experts have confirmed that although the detonators and pin had been taken from the grenade, explosives remained inside and could have easily become active if it was dropped, with devastating circumstances.
The 11-year-old girl had shown off her prized possession to her teacher at Hunter Christian School before class started.
Removed ... in a bomb-proof box. Photo: Ross Duncan
It is understood the girl's family was given the grenade by a neighbour, who told them it had belonged to an elderly relative who had made it inert and used it as a money box.
For more than a week, it stayed with the year 5 student's family until she decided to take it to school for show and tell.
The girl's teacher reacted quickly. Up to 450 students and staff were immediately evacuated, with nearly 400 going home. The grenade was taken to principal Boyd Allen's office and it remained on his desk for nearly three hours before RAAF experts removed it in a bomb-proof box.
Illustration: Cathy Wilcox
''They are very embarrassed by the fact that this has been the response,'' Newcastle City duty officer Inspector Gerard Lawson said of the parents.
''It was brought for show and tell, quite innocently as I understand it, but they appreciate now the great potential risks that they placed other people under.''
Mr Allen said the student was not in trouble.
‘‘Potential threat’’ ... experts removed the World War II grenade. Photo: Marina Neil
''She's bewildered, embarrassed,'' he said. ''I tried to make her aware she's not in trouble. She's a sweet young lady from a lovely family.''
Inspector Lawson said the school had acted appropriately in evacuating everyone immediately to a nearby club.
The school and a surrounding street remained shut until the bomb experts arrived and took the grenade away for testing.
''There is no doubt that it did pose a potential threat and the actions that we have had today are appropriate in the circumstances,'' Inspector Lawson said.
''It is timely to remind people that if you do come across anything suspicious, particularly munitions, that you alert police straight away so that we can take custody of it through the appropriate channels.''