SBHS teaching students a lesson with no bell system

Published: Sep. 11, 2018 at 7:25 AM EDT
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South Burlington High School has gotten rid of a long-standing tradition -- the school bell -- in order to create a more college-like atmosphere.

Bells started out as a way to let students know it was time to start school and they remained in the schools to keep students and teachers on time during class changes.

"It was a little bit of a holdover of a purely industrial model of education," South Burlington High School Principal Patrick Burke said.

This year at South Burlington High School, school starts in silence, getting rid of a long tradition of school bells.

"My understanding from my son is that the decision not to have a school bell is to help the kids be more accountable for time, similar to what it would be like in adult life," said Meg Huffman, a parent.

She supports the school breaking from tradition and looking at new ways to educate her son.

"I think it’s really good this kind of thinking and change," Huffman said.

A lot of parents, like Lisa Stafford, said they had no idea the school got rid of the school bell system.

"I had no idea until you let me know this morning," Stafford said. "I think it’s probably good for children who are responsible and are able to get to class and good with time management."

Some students expressed frustration, saying it makes them feel younger.

"It’s kind of frustrating because if you are eating lunch outside with your friends, there's no bell reminding you to come back in," said Emma Kelley, an 11th-grader. "It reminds me of middle school and I don't like that. Yeah, it makes me feel younger than I am."

Part of the reason Principal Burke got rid of the bell was to give students independence and create a more college-like atmosphere. But some students say they feel the exact opposite.

"It helps you get around to class when you're dismissed. We didn't have one in middle school, so it’s not a big change from middle school to high school," said Damon Strempek, a first-year student.

Burke sent out a tweet before school started telling students if they need help being on time they can set an alarm using their phone.

"If students are going to have cellphones-- and we know they are--anytime you can use it for a useful purpose. then you should, and that's a tool," Burke said.

Burke says the bells will most likely not come back. He does say he's looking at ways to get teachers and students on the same page.