Hearing the bell ring to signify the start of the school day was a time honored tradition in local schools.
Before the days of cell phones with alarms and inexpensive wristwatches, it was the way children were summoned to begin the day.
Now, a local man and his family are giving back a piece of that history to the Camas School District.
Lonie and Cynthia Lougheed are donating the bells once used in Forest Home Elementary and Central Elementary schools.
Forest Home Elementary is now the home of Vancouver Elite Gymnastics Academy on Northwest 10th Avenue, and Central was located on the site of what is now Prestige Care and Rehabilitation on Northeast Dallas Street.
The cast iron bells, 2- and 3-feet in diameter, have been sitting at the Lougheed home for several years, ever since Lonie’s father, Skip, brought them home decades ago.
Skip Lougheed was the Camas School District maintenance manager for several years, including during the 1950s and 1960s, when the two Camas schools were decommissioned. His wife, Celia, retired as the school secretary for JD Zellerbach Elementary, now the site of the Zellerbach Administration Center.
“Dad liked old things and realized the bells would just be used for scrap metal and he didn’t want them destroyed,” Lonie said.
So, Skip received permission from the school superintendent to remove the bells at his own time and expense. This was no easy task, considering the bells weigh more than 200 pounds each.
“His (Lonie’s) mom and dad were both rescuers,” Cynthia said. “They liked to keep things nice. I think he wanted to someday put them somewhere the community could enjoy them.”
Also located in the Lougheed home are the first set of science lab cabinets from Camas High School, which were removed in 1958 to make room for the new ones. Skip received permission to take the solid oak cabinets home, where they are still used in the garage.
Recently, Lonie acted on an idea he had long considered and decided to donate the bells to the school district. They will be placed in the Zellerbach Administration Center, amongst other memorabilia, to be enjoyed by future generations.
“I think he would be pleased that the bells are back in the schools,” Cynthia said. “It’s really come full circle.”
Superintendent Mike Nerland said a plaque with the Lougheed name would be included with the bells as thanks for the donation.
The Camas School Board unanimously approved the donation request at its Monday, June 23 meeting.
“Thank you for this beautiful gift,” said Mary Tipton, board member.