by Mike Clark
HARDWICK – Growing up in the Village of Hardwick as a 10-, 11-,12-year-old was like a dream come true as I look back. I loved sports, neighborhood baseball games, Little League, shooting baskets in the driveways, throwing the football and frisbee in the yard, night games with friends of Hide and Go Seek and Capture the Flag, sliding on Congo and skating on the Lower Cherry Street rink.
And one of my favorite all-time memories was hearing the Hardwick Academy bell ring. Yes, I would hear it many times as it rang in the morning to call us into the building, but my favorite bell ring came in the evening. When one of our Hardwick Academy Terrier teams had an away game, I awaited at home for that bell to sound. That beautiful ring would let all of us in town know that the Purple and Gold were victorious!! Oh, my joy, knowing that those varsity teams, with players that I looked up to, had won.
What an amazing tradition, what an uplifting community sound of that bell ringing in celebration.
Well, Finn Rooney of Walden and a Hazen Union student athlete himself, heard of this tradition and an idea was born. He wrote a compelling paper in his English glass that beckoned the question: Can that tradition of the bell be brought to Hazen Union and could it be the Hardwick Academy bell?
Oh my gosh, why had no one thought of it before? Of course, it was a fantastic notion, uncovered by a Hazen Union student who exemplified the unselfish quality of giving. Finn always had time for a chat with a neighbor, time for friends, was a selfless teammate, and gave to his community. A very special idea from a very special person.
While the idea was heartily supported my many H.A. and Hazen alumni and discussed at Hardwick Select Board meetings, it did not gain the endorsement necessary as a few alumni wanted the Hardwick Academy bell to remain in Memorial Park.
Well, in my mind, school bells should be at a school. These well-made bells still have plenty of spirit in them and should continue to reflect the spirit of community, parents, teachers, staff and students of the past, of today and our students of the future.
I received a call last week from Finn’s mom, Tara. She could not contain herself. She was thrilled to tell me the news of what Greensboro had done. They had donated the Greensboro High School bell to Hazen Union. Tara was emotional, thankful, and filled with pride as it was her son who initiated the very idea of a Hazen Union bell.
Greensboro answered the call and hooray for them!!! Brett Stanciu and MacNeil, representatives from Hardwick and Greensboro to the Hazen Union School Board, presented the idea to Greensboro Town Clerk Kim [Stevens] Greaves, Hazen Union class of ’74. Thinking it a great idea, Kim contacted the Greensboro Alumni Association and made calls to numerous alumni both local or no longer in town. There was unanimous support that was echoed by the Greensboro Select Board and then the Hazen Union School Board and administration.
This Thursday, May 27, at 2 p.m., a group of Hazen Union students will go to the Greensboro Town Hall to see the Greensboro H.S. bell loaded and then transported to Hazen Union. Finn participated with Bread and Puppet and their band will be there. VPR and the Hardwick Gazette will cover the ceremony. Finn was a member of the Walden Fire Department and they will help lead a caravan to Hazen Union. I am sure that both H.A., H.U. and Greensboro alumni will want to be present and join in the ceremony and celebration leading to Hardwick.
What music to our ears at this year’s Hazen Union graduation, Finn’s graduation year, to hear the celebratory ring of that beautiful bell again!
Thank you, Greensboro, and thank you Finn Rooney. A vision realized.
[Mike Clark is a member of the Hazen Union Class of ’72.]