School spirit in small town high schools hold many traditions, like a mascot, a rally song, classic colors, and a victory bell.
Neligh-Oakdale’s victory bell recently got a facelift and is now housed proudly in front of the school.
Aaron Wilson, 7-12 Industrial Technology teacher at Neligh-Oakdale, said his welding class had a part in the renovation project.
The bell was sandblasted last summer, and had accumulated rust before it could be repainted. Wilson’s welding class stepped up to remove the rust so it could be redone professionally.
“The superintendent asked if we could take the victory bell down and get it cleaned off so it could be painted again,” Wilson said.
The welding class built the stand for the victory bell outside the lobby door of the school, moving it from its previous location behind the gym. They also used a wire wheel to remove the rust.
From there, they sent the victory bell to Shane Oltjenbruns at The Body Works Auto Collision Center. Oltjenbruns donated his time and materials to complete the bell restoration.
While this project may not have been the first time the victory bell got an update, it is the first time in several years that it was professionally redone.
“The first time we sandblasted it, it had a lot of different colors on it. It wasn’t the first time it was painted. This may have been the first time it has been professionally painted,” Wilson said.
In addition to the new paint and location in front of the school, the victory bell also has an addition of a clapper, so it can be rung instead of being hit with and hammer.
The school has taken advantage of the updates with this symbol of school pride as the bell has been rung for several victories, most recently the Neligh-Oakdale boy’s basketball team district championship, qualifying for state for first time in 26 years.
Neligh-Oakdale Athletic Director Ron Beacom said victory bell has been just one part of an uplift in school spirit.
“It’s a symbol of positive culture. It Important for kids to take pride in our school and having school spirit. Everyone can see the victory bell now and it is getting used more,” Beacom said.
Beacom also gave credit N-O Superintendent Scott Gregory to boosting school spirit through new ideas, with the victory bell improvements being just one of many.
“Mr. Gregory has done a great job of getting students to be more excited,” Beacom said. “The victory bell is just one piece of that. We recently had a spirit night for basketball.Students and coaches ‘dressed for success’ in formal dresses and suits. All of those things combined really add to school spirit and pride.”