Bell Article PhotoPHOTO CAPTION: Principal Conrad holds the gong that was the original inspiration for the new bell sound at the high school. Conrad has a gong in his office that he uses to start–and to calm down–faculty meetings. He said, “When I heard the gong as one of the new bell options, I immediately thought back to the gong that I have in my office and knew that it would be a peaceful sound to have as the new bell.”

By Sidney Conway and Quelsi Jimenez

Principal Conrad said the new bell system, put in place during the summer, has been a topic of interest for a long time.

Conrad said, “The reason we changed the bell in the first place was because… the old bell was part of an analog system from the 1980s, so we had to upgrade from the analog system to [a] digital system.”  The previous analog system–that is, a system that is not digital in nature–was decades old.

Now the system works much more efficiently. The new system is also providing the school with a much needed communications upgrade. Conrad said the bell system is part of a plan that includes the new phones in the classrooms and, soon, new digital clocks. Thanks to the phones, faculty members can now contact each other and other public schools in Andover quicker than ever before.

The digital system is also providing the school with much needed security measures. The digital system “would…  give us the capacity to send messages… so, if there was an ALICE situation, and we didn’t want to make an announcement out loud, we could [now] make announcements to specific sections of the school,” said Conrad. This allows office faculty to directly contact teachers in certain classrooms, and have a two-way conversation with them through the speaker. During an ALICE situation, individual rooms can be reached and notified as to where the shooter is. If the shooter is far away from certain classrooms, those specific classrooms could be contacted individually and told to evacuate.

The new digital clocks will use the atomic clock, meaning that the clocks would tell the actual, official time, unlike the clocks that are in the school now, which seem to be always a couple of minutes (or, in some cases a couple of hours) off.

Despite all of the new improvements that the digital system is providing, students around the school still have had a lot to say about the new bell–like Valerie Hernandez, a junior at Andover High, who compared the new bell to a “water bottle hitting the ground.” She also suggested that the morning bell is “rough, and the old bell is not disruptive…. I definitely like the old bell better.”

Andover High junior Ava Goff, stated, “I personally like the old bell much better. The new bell is much more difficult to hear between classes.”  Another junior, Hannah Altman, said, “I don’t like the new bell, it’s kind of obnoxious and I prefer last year’s bell.” She continued on to say that the sound is a weird noise and is too loud. 

Preferring the old bell over the new one seems to be a common theme amongst students. However, there is a reason why faculty decided to implement the new “gong” sounding bell. According to Conrad, there were many options, and the gong sound seemed to be the least disturbing out of all of them. Conrad was also inspired to choose the new gong sound, as he has a gong himself in his office that he occasionally uses to start meetings.

Although many students are not a fan of the new bell, Mr. Bledsoe, a science teacher, said, “I really like the gong, because I am into Japanese martial arts and the bell fits right into what the sensibility of Eastern philosophy is, so I like the bell. The gong is nice. But I don’t like the other noise: it’s too loud and sounds like they’re yelling in your ear, like they’re screaming at you.”

The “other” noise that Bledsoe is referring to is the announcement bell. This loud, screeching sound has been a cause for many complaints amongst students, one of them being Caroline Yang, a junior who stated, “The announcement bell distracts me from my work and is unpleasant to hear.”

Frankly nobody, not even Conrad, seems to be a fan of that horrible screeching sound. So one might wonder as to why they changed the regular bell into a somewhat soft sound, but left the announcement bell piercing ears throughout the high school. Well, Conrad has been wanting to change this bell for a while now; however, he explained, “The person from the IT department who has been working on the announcement bell has been really sick.” His absence seems to be the cause for delay in the changing of the announcement bell.

Conrad has received some sample sounds that are all possibilities for the new announcement bell. He will be getting more possible sounds, and said they will then “run the bell sounds after school, put the volume up, and put the volume down” to see which sound has a softer, yet noticeable tone to be put in place for the announcement bell.