Port Henry — Ask not for whom the bell tolls…
Soon a pair of bells — from the old Mineville and Moriah schools — will toll at Moriah Central School thanks to a local Girl Scout.
Brooke Mildon, a 12-year-old Cadette Girl Scout, is leading a project that will retrieve the old Mineville and Moriah school bells from storage and place them at flagpoles at the current school in Port Henry.
Mineville, Moriah and Port Henry schools ceased to exist Feb. 21, 1968, when they combined to create the present Moriah Central School. The school bells have been in storage since that day.
“I am very passionate about this project because I have many family members who attended both of these schools,” Mildon, who will enter seventh grade at Moriah this fall, said. “I am hoping to keep the memories alive that these schools once existed and want others from my community to have the opportunity to learn about the historic meaning behind these bells.”
The project will help Mildon earn the Silver Award, the highest award available to Cadette scouts.
“I think this is a wonderful project,” said Bill Larrow, Moriah school superintendent, who is assisting Mildon. “Displaying these bells to the public will bring back a lot of memories for many people and encourage others to learn more about the Mineville and Moriah schools. They’re part of our heritage.”
As part of her project, Mildon has researched the history of the old schools and the bells. She interviewed former students, read old yearbooks and met with the town historian.
The Mineville School, with the nickname Red Flames, served students from 1906 until the 1968 merger. It utilized Memorial Hall, also known as the VFW, for its gym, kitchen dining area and some classrooms.
The Moriah School, with the nickname Green Raiders, served students from 1837 until the 1968 merger.
“The bells were used to start the school day and call students in from recess (lunch),” Mildon said. “These bells were used because students and staff could not hear the inside bells if they were out on the playground or sitting out on school grounds.
“The bell from Moriah High was also used to alert the firemen and community when there was a fire,” she added.
Mildon hopes her research will be included Moriah’s fourth grade curriculum, which focuses on local history.
“Brooke’s done a lot of research,” Larrow said. “She’s really taken a great interest in this project. This is becoming reality because of her.”
Plans call for a bell to be placed at the flagpole near the elementary school entrance and the other to be placed at the entrance of the high school. The cast iron bells will be mounted between stone pillars with a small roof covering each. A plaque will be mounted with each containing information about the bells and the schools.
The entire project is expected to cost about $5,000. Mildon has already earned more than $2,000 through money-earning activities.
A spaghetti dinner Wednesday, Aug. 21, at the Port Henry Knights of Columbus at 4 p.m. will also raise money for the project. Tickets are $9.
People who wish to donate supplies toward the effort can send them to Brooke’s mother, Val Mildon, at Moriah Central School, 39 Viking Lane, Port Henry 12974.
Brooke’s father, Bob, a carpenter, is also helping with the project.
The installation of the two bells will begin as soon as the money is in hand, Larrow said. He expects both bells to be in place this fall.