When new Banks school is finished, a historic clapper will be back in action

by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: STEPHANIE HAUGEN - Glass jars poured into a concrete bell base preserved the names of Banks students in 1965.The details of its past are vague, but its aura of tradition stands sturdy.

A big iron bell that used to hang in front of the old Banks Junior High will adorn the new middle school’s entry when it’s completed, bringing forward a piece of the school district’s history.

Many students, both recent grads and the now middle-aged, who wove through Banks’ hallways and sidewalks remember the bell clanging in the background of their schoolyard memories at major events such as Homecoming and dedication ceremonies — and as part of the daily routine.

The bell was given to the district to celebrate its 100-year anniversary in 1965, said Superintendent Bob Huston.

In May of that year, Banks elementary schoolers passed around pieces of paper to sign with pencils in their best handwriting. They shoved their class lists into glass bottles and sealed them tight, making time capsules that just recently saw the light of day again.

On dedication day, the students in Banks stood outside and waited as a crew poured concrete over their scribbled names, creating the bell’s base that wouldn’t be moved until almost 50 years later when construction began on a new middle school.

“I remember the day very vividly,” said Will Moore, now 55, who was a first-grader in 1965. by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: STEPHANIE HAUGEN - The names of Banks students were preserved in a time capsule that was opened during construction on the new school. The papers were layed out to dry over the summer.

Huston said he thought the bell came from Buxton Elementary School when it was part of the Banks district. Moore said he heard it was in the belfry at the old Banks Elementary where his dad went to school, but it was possible it had been in Buxton between that time and 1965 — or it could’ve been a different bell.

Marilyn (Ireland) Peters, a lifetime Banks resident, remembers a bell ringing when school started and during fire alarms. She also recalls walking from the old schoolhouse behind Banks Billiards in the spring of 1947, where the bell hung in the belfry, with books in hand to the recently torn-down junior high building when it was brand new.

When Moore looks back at the town’s history, he sees Banks’ thriving days in the first few decades of the 1900s. After a mid-century slump in economic and population growth, Moore said, he thinks it’s cool to see a piece of history from the town’s heyday brought back to the forefront as the town grows again with expansion and a new school.

“Banks is coming back to life,” said Moore, a former school board member.

At the dedication of the new school, which is scheduled to be completed next fall, Huston said he thinks it might be a good idea for current students to participate in another time capsule project, to be opened by a yet-to-come generation, looking back at when the junior high was new.

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