Fall 1960: The bell tower is built by Mr. Elwyn L. Booth, father to Larry Booth (‘55), Mary Diane Booth (‘58), and Dennis Neal Booth (‘61).
According to his son Dennis, Mr. Booth talked his fellow contractors into donating the bricks, mortar and labor needed to build the tower. The bell was used to celebrate campus victories.
1986-87: Ila Decker Piel (’61), chair of the high school’s 50th anniversary committee, spearheads a campaign to replace the original bell, which was severely damaged. ASB fundraisers and donations from the anniversary committee pay for the bell.
June 1987: The new bell is hung and officially rung for the first time during the 1987 commencement ceremony. In order to protect the bell from vandalism, louvers are installed that hide the bell from view.
Fall 2008: “The Mystery of the Bell Tower” is published in Mustang Memories, describing the history of the bell tower. It includes an assurance from the Foundation that the tower would not be torn down during the construction of the new Performing Arts Center.
As far as the school administration and Foundation understand, the bell tower will remain in place but will need some rehabilitation due to its deteriorating condition.
April 23, 2010: A maintenance crew begins to dismantle the tower, to the surprise and dismay of the school administration, students, parents and Foundation staff. Considerable panic ensues.
At Principal Mike Grove’s request, the cupola is placed in the Wood Shop area, where the bell is removed for safekeeping. (Members of the Bell Rescue Squad included Jeff Germano, Jason Berend, Michael Grove, and Kevin Shaw, ’10.)
May 2010: The bell is placed on display in the Principal’s office. The damaged cupola is repaired and put back on the top of the tower.
June 9, 2010: John Addleman, Director of Planning & Financial Management at the District Office spoke with me about the bell tower. The main points covered during our conversation:
- Even if the tower was in excellent condition, construction grading would bring it down. If the tower could be moved, it could be saved, but moving it will only destroy it.
- The District will rebuild the tower as a working bell tower, which will hold the bell purchased during the 1986-87 50th anniversary celebration.
- Instead of reinstalling louvers (to protect the bell) plexiglass windows will be installed in the cupola, so the bell will be seen as well as heard when it is rung.
- The dismantling crew has been instructed to save as many of the bricks as possible for incorporation into the new tower.
- The District will coordinate with the Alumni Association in order to install an historical plaque in the tower.
- Demolition will be between June 21 and July 1st. The new tower will probably be built by August 2011.
- The District will work with the Foundation and Alumni Association in order to coordinate a tower dedication ceremony with the reunion of the class of 1961.
June 23, 2010: Several maintenance personnel dismantle our bell tower, saving as many bricks as possible. The bricks are placed on pallets and moved to a secure storage place.
I watched them during part of this process and agree that the internal structure was as unsound as District representatives stated it was.
Ila Decker Piel (’61) will work with Principal Mike Grove and the Alumni Coordinator (that would be me) to coordinate the plaque, the incorporation of old bricks into the new tower, and the re-dedication of the new tower, hopefully at the same time of the 1961 reunion.
Winter, 2010-11: Rumors that there may not be enough money to rebuild the tower begin to circulate on campus. Students start a “Bring Back the Bell” campaign, collecting money in their homerooms.
UPDATE: March 30, 2011: Ila Piel, Bonnie Wren, and Mike Grove meet to discuss the tower and learn that the District cannot afford to rebuild the Bell Tower after all. We can, however, rebuild it with volunteer labor and contributed materials, as long as it is built according to district-approved plans.
If any alumni would like to contribute their labor (masonry or construction) please let us know. If you would like to contribute funds to help “Bring Back the Bell”, you may donate online with this PayPal button.
If you’d rather contribute by check, please make it payable to “SDAF” and write “Bell” in the memo. Send to:
Attn: Alumni Association
PO Box 235109
Encinitas, CA 92023-5109
Donations in any amount will be gratefully received.
UPDATE: March 30, 2011
The bell tower WILL be rebuilt. For a recap of what’s been going on with our bell tower, read the timeline listed below the photos. (Click any photo to view larger version; then hit the “Back” button to come back to this page.)
UPDATE: FALL 2012: The bell tower HAS been rebuilt!
Click here to see photos of the bell tower reconstruction!