WOODBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — We use the phrase “ring in the new school year,” but in Woodbury, they literally did that on the first day of school.
The loud clanging of a 122-year-old bell rang through downtown Woodbury promptly at 9:10 this morning. It is a sound that has not been heard at the Mitchell School in at least seven decades.
That bell was rung, at first, rung by 92-year-old Floyd Judson, Mitchell’s oldest alumnus. He and his wife Joan both remember when that bell used to ring every day.
“We lived about a mile away from here and you could hear that bell loud and clear when it was ringing,” Joan said. “It brought back memories.”
Starting in 1898, that bell sat high atop the old wooden Mitchell schoolhouse. That wooden structure was torn down and replaced around 1950. The bell stayed inside and silent.
“I’ve lived in Woodbury 45 years and I’ve always seen the bell in the lobby,” said First Selectwoman Barbara Perkinson (R – Woodbury). “It’s sad that it’s just been sitting there.”
Today’s ceremony is the end of more than a year’s work to change that.
“We set the wheels in motion to refurbish the bell and put it back in its rightful place so it could ring in the school day again,” said Principal Andrew Komar.
That rightful place is on a 4-foot brick pedestal right outside the front door of the school. Once the oldest alum was done ringing, this year’s youngest student took a turn, with a little help from his mom. That combination of old and new is going to be a teachable moment for Mitchell School students.
“With that physical piece that kids can come out and ring that’s part of the curriculum that we’ll develop for our students to learn more about real local history,” said Region 14 Board of Education Chair George Bauer.
Today began a new tradition. Every day, a different student will ring that bell to literally ring in the new school day.