West Side Elementary School Bell Ceremony
On August 8, 1929, West Side was formed on the west end of town to provide a school for the rapidly growing community. As reported in 2006 by former West Side teacher Ms. Donna Netherland, “School began daily with the ringing of the large school bell and eager children came running out of their homes to go to school.”
Nineteen years later when the school moved from Orchard Road to Burgie Street, the giant bell did not make the journey. Eventually, Mr. Guy Burleson took ownership of the school bell. After Mr. and Mrs. Burleson passed on, Mrs. Florence Tucker assumed ownership of the bell. Former West Side kindergarten teacher Vera Peters learned of the bell’s existence and approached Mrs. Tucker. After their conversation, Mrs. Tucker generously agreed to donate the bell back to West Side Elementary for students and staff to enjoy once again.
Upon its arrival at the current location of West Side Elementary, Principal John Wright enlisted Elizabethton High School teacher, Mr. Dustin Henlsey, along with two EHS students, Caleb Metros and Kenyu Patel, to begin the process of restoring the bell. They, in turn, contacted TCAT and Carter’s Powder Coating to further assist in the restoration. In addition, the company that manufactured the bell still has the original cast and was able to manufacture some parts to make a stand for the bell.
Plans to celebrate West Side’s 90th anniversary were scheduled for the 2019-2020 school year and included a bell ringing ceremony featuring the newly restored school bell. However, when schools were closed in March of 2020, the celebration was put on hold.
This Thursday, September 17th is Constitution Day. We are pleased to announce that on that day at 8:15 AM, we will, at last, have the West Side bell ringing ceremony! We have invited the Watauga Valley Fife and Drum Corp to do a presentation on the Constitution before we officially ring the bell for the first time in 70 years!