Liberty bell to ring again at high school games

LIBERTY — Alumni Association members are preparing to revive a school tradition for the upcoming football season after purchasing a new victory bell.

After years of using a miniature replacement bell, the Liberty Local School District Alumni Association started a GoFundMe page to purchase a replica of the original bell on March 30. Elaine Jacobs, the lifetime alumni member who authored the page, said that the $1,800 goal had been exceeded within 24 hours.

“It was a tradition that was valued decades ago,” Jacobs said. “And I think the current students and staff tried to live up to that a little bit, but as I said (on GoFundMe), it was not up to the level of the type of bell that we would want to use in the event.”

According to the fundraiser page, the original bell was rung throughout the 1970s and early ’80s when the football team won games on Friday nights. In the mid-80s, however, it is rumored that students of Liberty’s arch rival, Girard, stole the bell.

Jacobs further wrote on the page, “A few years later, a group of Liberty band students attempted to return the bell to its rightful owner but were caught and the story ended there.”

Liberty High School Principal Brian Knight stated that “one goal the school has tried to achieve over the course of the school year was to recognize the rich history tied into Liberty High School and within the community.”

“To begin, we dedicated an area in our trophy case with artifacts going back to the early 1920s,” Knight said. “We were fortunate to have members of our community also contribute items to be displayed for our students to see and discuss. Bringing back our Liberty bell provides an opportunity for our students to recreate a tradition within the district and allow our alumni to remember their days as students as well.”


As of Wednesday, a total of $2,500 was raised for the new bell. Jacobs said she did not expect to reach their goal as fast as they did.

“I was going to contribute the balance of whatever was going to be owed,” Jacobs said. “So my thought was ‘all right, if we can get halfway there, I’ll get the other half.’ I just wanted to try to get a little bit of help.”

Jacobs said the first bell the committee found was $4,000. However, they found another bell for $1,800 and they were able to purchase it for $1,600.

The granddaughter of a 95-year-old man from Mercer, Pa. listed the bell for sale on Facebook Marketplace.

“It was awesome, his son was there as well,” Jacobs said. “He had this huge barn out in the country. The inside of it had any kind of bell you could have imagined, along with some tractor accessories. But the 95-year-old grandfather was the one who got on the tractor, lifted it up in a hoist, and moved it over to the trailer. He was absolutely amazing.”

Jacobs is unsure how the new bell will impact the school and athletics in winning games. However, she said, the new prop is “More about who you represent, and how important that is, no matter what school you go to.”

Jacobs continued, “And right now, the Alumni Association is very much focused on some initiatives that deal with tradition.”

Two years ago, the committee established a graduation ceremony practice for kindergarteners, in addition to “a number of things” the Alumni Association is trying to reengage the community with.

“I don’t think it impacts a win,” Jacobs said. “But I think it’s trying to establish a sense of pride, and why tradition matters. We’re going to get into that when we present the bell to the current football team. We’re going to talk about what it signifies, and how when you ring that bell it means you’ve accomplished something.”

Liberty High School football head coach Joe Simon said while he didn’t get a chance to ring the bell during his days playing for the same team, “It just brings an old tradition back.”

“It’s something that we do after every game,” he said. “But I’m going to be honest, our bell is kind of rinky-dinky, and it’s small. It’s not really so much about what it looks like, but more so the principle behind it.”

Simon said the bell they have now, though much smaller, still means something to the team because they have to earn the opportunity to ring it.

The fourth-year head coach mentioned that the football rivalry history between Liberty and Girard adds more significance to the bell as well.

“It’s just another sense of community pride as well,” Simon, a 1999 Liberty graduate, said. “They’re definitely going to be pumped. When you ring that bell, the sound just kind of echoes in the locker room and everyone jumps around.”

Simon concluded, “Whether you’re the worst player on the team, or the best, everybody is hyped up and having a good time. And that’s what you look forward to as a coach, and as a player. Those are the moments that you work for in the offseason, so they’ll be really pumped to have something bigger and better, just to bring the team together even more.”

The Alumni Association is planning to place the bell behind the benches, at the 50-yard-line, in front of the home stands.

“When we do earn a victory, they will be able to run over to the home fans and ring that bell loudly to share the excitement that comes with winning that particular game,” Jacobs said.

The group now has enough money to have the bell refurbished as well, so they’ll have it cleaned, powerwashed, sanded, repainted and mounted on a pedestal.

“We have plenty of time, and the maintenance staff is already prepared,” Jacobs said. “We’ll be ready to go for the first home game.”

Have an interesting story? Contact Daniel Newman by email at dnewman@tribtoday.com.


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