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History of the Bell Tradition

Do you know the history of the bell at Derby High School?

When each new freshman class begins at DHS, they learn the history and traditions associated with the school’s bell.

In 1967, members of the DHS senior class drove to El Dorado and purchased the bell from a salvage yard for $150. After purchasing the bell, they returned to Derby to ring the bell and caused a pretty significant disruption. Soon after the students decided to donate the bell to the school and the student body decided they would like to use the bell as a Victory Bell. The bell was mounted on a cart, pulled to most of the school’s athletic events and would then ring the bell after a victory.

In the 1970s, the school decided to change the purpose of the bell from a Victory Bell to a Memorial Bell. A large mound was built to the west of the old high school (now Derby Middle School). The bell was mounted on top and served as a memorial to students who had passed away, most from service in the military.

When the new Derby High School was built in 1994, the bell was brought over and placed along the walking path leading up to the school’s entrance. When Tim Hamblin, former DHS Principal, started in his role in 2011, he wanted to ensure students knew the bell’s history and make a connection with the bell. This was important to him because he is also a proud DHS graduate. To accomplish this, he created two traditions students now experience each year. 

Each student, on their first day of school at DHS, walks by and touches the bell to make a physical connection to the school, become part of the DHS family, and learn its history. This act should serve as a promise they make to themselves to do all that they can to graduate.

Graduation brings the second tradition. After graduation practice on the last day of school for seniors, the class parades out to the bell and forms a single file line. Each student then walks to the front of the bell on the opposite side from where they touched the bell as freshmen to reach forward and ring the bell. In recent years, dedicated staff retiring from Derby High School have begun getting in on the tradition, also ringing the bell on their last day.

The sustained ring of the bell lasts over an hour. It signifies that they have kept that promise to themselves and reached graduation.