Walker High School Bell Dedication
Walker High School Bell Dedication
Posted on 06/15/2017

Walker High School celebrated the dedication of the original North Puyallup School bell June 8. Also dedicated was the brand new basketball court built earlier this year by Windermere Foundation.

To open the ceremony Alicia Nosworthy, principal at Walker High School welcomed the community giving thanks to all the community has done over the years, pointing out the support from Harnish Auto Family as well as Windermere Foundation. Following was a welcome statement from Dr. Tim Yeomans, superintendent of Puyallup School District.

North Puyallup School

Kris Wilkinson, office manager at Walker High School, shared the history of the bell and of the land where Walker High School sits today. Wilkinson researched articles, photos, and archives in search of the history of the North Puyallup School bell.

Where Walker High School currently stands was previously the location of the North Puyallup School which served grade school students and was built in 1909. The property had been given to the Puyallup School District in the early 1900’s under the stipulation that the land would remain in the district so long as school continues on the land.

The original school building had four classrooms on each of the two levels, and in the middle of the building was a large coal furnace to keep the teachers and students warm. On top of the school building hung a large 300-pound cast iron bell that would ring to let kids know school was about to begin. 

 

North Puyallup School and brick building

Approximately three years later a brick building was added to the property next to the North Puyallup School building which included a kitchen, cafeteria, and bathrooms.

When an earthquake occurred in 1949 the bell was no longer structurally safe to remain hanging so it was moved to the attic where it sat for over 20 years.

The school buildings continued to be used and purposed in a variety of ways throughout the years.  The original two-story schoolhouse was used as an elementary school until it was demolished in 1970. The newer brick schoolhouse was used as co-op daycare center where young mothers could continue to receive public education while their children were being looked after. In 1975 the brick schoolhouse reopened to serve secondary students in what was known as the Continuation School. In 1986 the local fire department burned the building down to make way for the new building which opened as Puyallup Alternative High School.  in 1995 this school was renamed E.B. Walker High School after a founding superintendent of the school district who strongly supported alternative education. 

 

North Puyallup School Demolition

Rhine Demolition was awarded the contract to tear down the original North Puyallup School building in 1970.  For an unknown reason the bell, which had been in safe storage since the earthquake in 1949, was left behind. At that time when a demolition company took on a contract everything at the location technically belonged to that company. After much community uproar for the release of the bell Rhine Demolition later gave the bell back to the North Puyallup Community. 

Involved in the return of the bell were firemen Alec Perozzo, Tony Zehnder, Frank Quinn, Vernon Hill, and Peter Person.  These firemen, in addition to the pursuit of the bells’ return to the community, built a bell tower on the land of the North Puyallup Fire Station District 11 where it sat in safe keeping for over 40 years. Upon the news that the retired firehouse would soon be demolished, Ed Hennings, a local historian and retired firefighter himself, began a three-year process to find the bell a new home.

Hennings researched the bells’ original location from over a century ago and it was returned to its previous site.

Today the bell is now a permanent structure in front of Walker High School.

The writing on the plaques states, “Original Bell North Puyallup School 1909-1970” and above it painted on the wood encasing the bell reads, “Donations and promotion by Chief Alec Perozzo – Tony ZehhderCH. CM. – Frank Quinn – Vernon Hill – Peter Person – and Firemen of District #11”

Former North Puyallup School students next to bell
Pictured above from left to right former North Puyallup students: 
John Knutsen, former Puyallup Mayor; 
Larry Bargmeyer, currently with Windermere Foundation; Alec Perozzo,
former Fire Chief of District #11; and 
Mike Grant, former Commissioner of Edgewood.

Also being dedicated at the ceremony was the new basketball court donated by the Windermere Foundation. When Windermere Foundation partnered with Walker High School for their Day of Service, they asked what needed to be done on the campus. In addition to grooming the grounds, providing storage for items for students in need, purchasing picnic tables and hosting a schoolwide barbecue, Windermere also installed an outdoor basketball court, a dream of Nosworthy’s. Additionally, they provided $2,000 in scholarship monies for graduating seniors. Jodi Boyd presented the representatives of the Windermere Foundation with a plaque to thank them for their continued support and generosity.

Basketball court donated by Windermere Foundation

Nosworthy also presented a plaque to the Harnish Auto Family for their ongoing support that has been given to the students at Walker High School. Support from the Harnish Auto Family has included individual support to families needing transportation to and from school, gifts during the holiday season for students with challenging family situations, as well as gowns, caps, and dress clothes for graduation.

As the dedication ceremony came to a close, Nosworthy once again thanked the community and community partners for their continued support of the staff and students at Walker High School.

Afterwards, the room continued to be filled with warm stories from community members of the many memories surrounding the North Puyallup School and the original North Puyallup School bell.

Devin Konsmo
konsmdm@puyallup.k12.wa.us