MORIAH — The bells that once summoned students to Mineville and Moriah schools are ringing again, thanks to Moriah Middle School student Brooke Mildon.
Brooke, 12, discovered the historic bells had been in storage since their removal from the old school buildings decades ago.
A Cadette Girl Scout, she decided that restoration and display of the cast-iron bells would make a great Silver Award project, the highest honor available to Cadettes.
The bells were recently rededicated during a ceremony outside the school.
The Mineville, Port Henry and Moriah school districts merged in 1968, the last time the Mineville and Moriah bells were used until now.
“I pursued the project because I had a passion for the historic bells,” the seventh-grader said. “I learned a lot about being a team leader and what teamwork really means.”
She had to hold fundraisers to finance restoration of the bells and construction of two gazebos outside Moriah Central School in which to display them.
People assisted by “baking for bake sales, donating bottles and cans, purchasing food from bake sales or the spaghetti dinner,” she said.
She thanked the Mineville Veterans of Foreign Wars Post for letting her use their facility for the spaghetti dinner.
Brooke got display construction assistance from Volker Husel at Synthesis Architects LLP of Schenectady, as well as support from retired Moriah Town Historian Joan Daby and current Historian Betty LaMoria.
“They (the historians) shared their knowledge of the bells and helped me research the bells,” Brooke said.
She interviewed them and former students and pored over old yearbooks to get information on the bells for plaques that are affixed to each display.
Her parents, Robert and Valerie Mildon, also assisted her, she said, and, along with Linda Stephen and Dee Streeter at Girl Scouts of Northeastern New York, were supportive of her project.
“The bells were used to start the school day and call students from recess and lunch,” Brooke said. “The students and staff couldn’t hear the inside bells when they were outside.”
She hopes people enjoy learning about their heritage through the bells.
“I hope these bells and the information displayed bring back fond memories for those who attended these schools.”
Mineville School, with the team nickname Red Flames, was in operation from 1906 until the 1968 merger.
Moriah School, whose team name was the Green Raiders, held classes from 1837 until the 1968 merger.
After the merger, a new combined school was built off Plank Road; it is still in use today.
Brooke said she wanted to “thank all the amazing people who have helped me reach this goal.”
PRAISE FROM ADVISER
Moriah Superintendent William Larrow was her Silver Award adviser.
“Brooke did a fantastic job,” he said. “I can’t praise her enough. She did a lot of work.”
Larrow said two of the legs were cracked on one bell, and two were missing on another, and Brooke arranged to have them repaired and replaced.
“These bells hold such great memories for the community,” he said. “This was a wonderful project.”
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