New bell aims to rehumanize transitions throughout school day


Illustration by Sabrina Barnes

School bells are closely tied with a lot of emotions. The feeling of elation as class ends or after a long week. The stress of the period ending before you finished the last question on a test or when you’re dashing to class and it rings just before you make it through the door. This year, as we returned to school, I expected to find myself in all of those situations and many more in which the ring of the bell changed my mood completely. 

Now imagine my surprise when the normal loud droning note was no longer blaring from the speakers when my class was done, and instead, I was confronted with three peaceful chimes. 

“I was surprised to hear the new bell on the first day,” Senior Luis Sanchezsays, “At first I was a bit confused.”

Other ETHS students have also had mixed reactions to this change. Most agree that the new sound is much less harsh than the original, but whether that’s actually a good thing is up for debate.
“Honestly, it doesn’t really remind me of the end of class. Obviously, I’ll get used to it ending class, but it doesn’t sound like an end of class bell,” junior Hanna Lindroth says. 

Senior Moksha Paudel agrees, even attesting that, in its own way, the more ‘calming bell’ can in fact be a cause of stress. 

“You don’t hear it, and that stresses me out, because I’m waiting for it but I can’t hear it,” she says. “I like the jarring bell. It wakes me up.”

There’s also been a fair amount of confusion between the mixing of the old bell, new bell and the ‘musical interludes.’ Figuring out the block schedule has been hard for everyone, both students and staff, and it’s perfectly reasonable for some of the changes to have been a little bumpy. That being said though, the implementation of so many different sounds for announcements, different lunch periods, and sometimes just at random times, seems to have done more harm than good.

“Sometimes, it rings six times; sometimes, it rings three, and I don’t know what it means,” says Paudel. “Plus, what’s the use of changing the bell for passing periods if they’re going to use the old bell for lunch?”

“It confuses me when they use the two different types of bells,” shares junior Leo Zematis. 

But despite all of these problems, a lot of students do actually feel that the bell creates a safer environment, which is exactly what ETHS has been trying to do. Coming out of a year that was difficult for so many students, it’s important for the school to help smooth over that transition and bring students back into a positive space so that they can be successful in their learning. While the change in bell is only a small piece of the picture, it does seem to have been successful with some students.

“The last one startled me every time, and this one just reminds me of an airport.” ETHS senior Sparrow Hamilton says.

“It’s chill, it’s fun, it’s relaxing,” junior Aaliya Weheliye says.

Sanchez also agrees that ETHS’ attempts to help it’s students are at least a step in the right direction.

“Just trying out new things to see if they work — if the mental health of students is improving — helps,” he says “Some people don’t embrace new things right away, so it’ll definitely take some time to get used to.”

But despite the positive reaction to the bell, overall students feel that not much has actually changed. A new bell, even if it’s nicer than the old one, can’t fix the deeper problems in a school. Lindroth crystallizes this feeling.

“The reality is, teachers have to cover a certain amount of material, and they have to give us a certain amount of assignments, and school has not been structured to a point to benefit students, so no matter how much they care for us, or how much social-emotional stuff they do, it’s not gonna change the actual workload and stress that’s toxic about high school.”