Original Custer Bell gets a new life with a new display

The Custer Elementary School Bell, which hung in the original “Little Red Schoolhouse” behind the existing school, has a new life thanks to a Boy Scout, volunteers and the district maintenance staff. Boy Scout Evan Kaasa, son of Custer kindergarten teacher Melissa Kaasa, was looking for an Eagle Scout project and Custer principal Jane Al-Tamimi suggested restoring and building a display for the old bell. The bell hung in the old schoolhouse but was removed years ago by former custodian Gerry Hall who was concerned it would fall or be stolen. Lowe’s of Lakewood donated the materials and Evan, his fellow Boy Scouts and other volunteers built a display shaped like the old schoolhouse for the bell.

“It was a lot of hard work but I was fully committed to finishing the display,” said Evan. “I really hope it benefits the community.”

Jack Burkhart and the district maintenance crew restored the bell so it was operational. The bell was unveiled and rung during a special ceremony on May 1 at Custer. Several alumni from the original Custer Elementary School attended the ceremony and shared stories with students about how different it was going to school in a two-room schoolhouse. Alumnus Jeannette Hurlow, who was a third-grader in 1941, said the bell would ring at 8 a.m. every morning.

“There were only 17 students in my class and all the grades used one of the rooms. There was also no bus transportation so we had to walk to and from school each day. I loved attending the Custer School!”

The bell and new display are located in the school’s foyer.

Bell

Boy Scout Evan Kaasa, former custodian Gerry Hall (second from left) and “Little Red Schoolhouse” alumni stand by the new display for the restored Custer Bell.