The Story of Webster's Bell
The ringing of the Webster Bell signals
the beginning of another day of learning.
The Webster Bell project began during the summer of 1995. While
reading the history of Webster it was discovered that the original
Webster School, built in 1910, had a bell. When the school burned and
was rebuilt on Sirrine Street the bell was moved to the new location.
The current Webster School was built in 1959 and for some reason the
bell remained at the Sirrine site that is now Franklin Elementary.
Dr. Finley met with the Franklin Principal with the plan of
"bringing home the Webster Bell." Franklin did not want to release
the bell. In October of that year a 12-minute video was produced for
the Webster staff to gain support for the return of our bell.
Franklin officials declined to return the bell as they had grown
fond of it.
It was decided that if Webster could not have the original bell, a new
one would be purchased; a bigger and better Webster Bell. The original
bell didn't amount to much. It was a small steel bell common with
schools built around the turn of the century.
A call was placed to the U.S. Naval Ship Yard to explore the
possibility of a "ship's bell." This did not pan out. Several other
calls led Dr. Finley to the Verdin Bell Co. in Cincinnati, Ohio. A
refurbished bell that had been cast in St. Louis in 1929 was
procured. The cost was $10,400.00! Verdin was to hold this bell
until the money to pay for it was raised.
Funds were pursued for the next seven years. Two years into the
project it was not going well and efforts were about to be
surrendered when an unexpected donation occurred. Mr. Reid Tollman,
a very successful attorney, stopped by the principal's office one
evening. He had heard about the bell project. Mr. Tollman had
graduated from sixth grade at Webster and thought the bell project
was a good idea. He handed over a check for five-hundred dollars.
This gave new life to the Webster Bell project. Several other large
donations followed, one being from TRW Corp. right here in Mesa. Our
student council and PTO both made significant contributions. The
Webster staff also contributed to the project. Students bringing in
small change from home resulted in raising a million coins for the
By the fall of 2001, it was evident we were going to make it and the
bell was officially placed on order. Construction of the bell tower
began and what started as a dream was about to become a reality.
The New Webster Bell was dedicated in May of 2002. Seven students
were nominated as honorary bell ringers. More than 100 adults and
nearly 1000 children joined in the ringing and dedication of the new
bell. Students are nominated by their teachers to ring the bell
each morning. To be nominated a student must maintain a good
attitude and strong academic effort in school each day. The ringing
of the Webster Bell signals the beginning of another day of