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Cardiff School marks 100th year

Historic school bell rung once for each year

In 1913, Cardiff by the Sea’s founder, J. Frank Cullen, realized his growing town’s kids should probably have something better than a classroom in the MacKinnon farm’s barn. So he donated land and built Cardiff’s first school, named Cullen School in his honor.

A week ago, on February 6 — 100 years after the founding of Cardiff’s first school — 600 students, teachers, parents, alumni, and community leaders celebrated the anniversary by ringing the school’s old, steel, school bell 100 times.

In the 1920s, two school-board members traveled to Santa Ana to the site of a train wreck. They purchased the steel bell off the train for $20. The bell was already 100 years old, having been forged in 1820. A belfry needed to be constructed on the school building to house the bell.

In the old school days, at 8:00 a.m. the principal would ring the bell. It could be heard everywhere in Cardiff. The children knew it was time to finish their breakfast and run down the hill to start their classes.

In 1950, when the original Cullen school was to be replaced on the same property, plans did not include the old bell. The community protested, and when the current Cardiff School campus opened in September of 1950, the bell had been installed, at the location where it hangs today.

Over several decades, the bell had become unfunctional until principal Julie Parker led a restoration effort in 1999. It has been used only for special occasions since.

At the celebration last week, it was pointed out that the great-grandchildren of the original school’s contractor, Milton Smith, are currently enrolled at the school. Their mom, Catherine Blakestar, an alumnus, shared the story the Cardiff school bell.

The bell was rung ten times each, by ten representatives of the Cardiff community — school board members, teachers, library and business groups, and parents. Maisie Leeuw, a member of the Third Graders Club, represented the 350 students.

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In 1913, Cardiff by the Sea’s founder, J. Frank Cullen, realized his growing town’s kids should probably have something better than a classroom in the MacKinnon farm’s barn. So he donated land and built Cardiff’s first school, named Cullen School in his honor.

A week ago, on February 6 — 100 years after the founding of Cardiff’s first school — 600 students, teachers, parents, alumni, and community leaders celebrated the anniversary by ringing the school’s old, steel, school bell 100 times.

In the 1920s, two school-board members traveled to Santa Ana to the site of a train wreck. They purchased the steel bell off the train for $20. The bell was already 100 years old, having been forged in 1820. A belfry needed to be constructed on the school building to house the bell.

In the old school days, at 8:00 a.m. the principal would ring the bell. It could be heard everywhere in Cardiff. The children knew it was time to finish their breakfast and run down the hill to start their classes.

In 1950, when the original Cullen school was to be replaced on the same property, plans did not include the old bell. The community protested, and when the current Cardiff School campus opened in September of 1950, the bell had been installed, at the location where it hangs today.

Over several decades, the bell had become unfunctional until principal Julie Parker led a restoration effort in 1999. It has been used only for special occasions since.

At the celebration last week, it was pointed out that the great-grandchildren of the original school’s contractor, Milton Smith, are currently enrolled at the school. Their mom, Catherine Blakestar, an alumnus, shared the story the Cardiff school bell.

The bell was rung ten times each, by ten representatives of the Cardiff community — school board members, teachers, library and business groups, and parents. Maisie Leeuw, a member of the Third Graders Club, represented the 350 students.

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Comments
1

Very sweet that this school is still there. Better yet that the small school district still has its independence, not having been absorbed into a larger neighboring district. But I'm skeptical about the story of the age of the bell. Railway locomotives didn't appear until around 1830, and they were rare then. Bells were usually cast of brass or bronze, and to have one that old and cast of steel is most unlikely. If it came from a wrecked loco, it isn't that old. If it is that old, it likely didn't come from a wreck.

Feb. 13, 2014

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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