Hardwick, News

Academy Alumni Assn. Votes to Move Bell to Hazen Union

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The Hardwick Academy Bell

by Patrick Hussey, Community Journalist

HARDWICK – At its November monthly meeting, the Hardwick Academy (HA)/Hazen Union (HU) Alumni Association unanimously approved a motion to restore the Academy bell, make repairs to its working pieces and move it to Hazen Union so it can be rung again. 

Now they want to find out if the HA alumni support the initiative. Over the past couple weeks, the HA/HU Alumni Association has been busy updating the list of HA alumni addresses.  By mid-January, they plan to mail out ballots to all HA alumni asking them to choose between leaving the bell in Memorial Park, or, to restore the bell and move it to Hazen Union to be rung again.

There is ardent support among some in the Class of 1970 to leave the bell where it lies. They are obviously very proud of the moment in time when they took the HA bell to make sure it would be preserved forever. It took six years of fundraising, but the bell was finally placed in a cupola in Hardwick’s Memorial Park, where it has sat mostly silent for the past 47 years.

On the other side of the coin is the alumni association’s position. They feel strongly the bell could and should be rung again so its tone can be heard throughout the town once again. They want a great Hardwick Academy tradition to continue at Hazen Union, thereby further tying the two schools together.

The bell was originally scheduled to be placed at Hazen Union back in 1970. After the HA seniors returned the bell, the school board at the time decided to turn over the bell’s possession to the Class of 1970 and all living Hardwick Academy alumni.

A cupola was slated to be constructed on the Hazen grounds to hold the bell. The student council even raised money to support the effort. But the initiative never got off the ground. The bell eventually was moved from the Hazen Union gym to the Memorial Building museum a year later.

The alumni association at the time voted to have the bell placed in Memorial Park. It took several years, but finally enough money was raised as Orise Ainsworth, a 1970 graduate,  helped push the project to completion in the summer of 1976.

The issue to leave the bell where it sits, or restore it and move it to Hazen, is about to be put to a vote to all Academy alumni. Last week, three members of the 1970 class received an email from the HA/HU Alumni Association. The email asked those members to present their reasons for leaving the bell where it is.

The association, in turn, will state their reasons for moving the bell. Both sides of the argument will be presented to voters in a letter to be mailed out. The association is attempting, as fairly as possible, to present both cases.

Inside the envelope will be a voting postcard. On it, alumni can vote whether they want the bell to stay, or, to be moved. The postcard will be stamped and it will be addressed to the Hardwick Historical Society (HHS). The HHS staff has volunteered to tabulate the results of the vote.

The voting postcards should be ready to be mailed out by the second week in January, and by the end of the month, there should be an answer as to the bell’s fate.

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