The Batavia Career and Technical Education (CTE) Center Auto Body program, for the last three months, has been restoring two Bells that used to hang at the Batavia Middle School. The bells will be presented at the Centennial Ceremony at Batavia Middle School. The Auto Body students, with help from Conservation Students, made platforms for the newly renovated bells to sit on. Going forward, the bells will be mobile and will be around for a long time.
One of the bells is made of cast iron, and one is made of brass bronze. The brass bronze bell was made at the McNeeley Foundry in Troy, NY. The bell arrived in Batavia back in 1873, likely by horse and buggy. The bell will be 150 years old next year. The other bell was made in the early 1900s in West Seneca, NY.
Auto Body Teacher Jeffrey Fronk received an email From Rachel Slobert about the bells, and immediately knew this would be the perfect project for his students. Fronk said he knew how valuable these bells were and didn’t want them falling into the wrong hands. He knew how important it was to restore them and learned the rich history behind them. He wanted the students to get a chance to restore something different, especially with this much history in the community. The last time the bells rang was Likely in the 1930s.
To restore the bells they had to go through two different processes since one is cast iron and one is brass bronze. The project was completed by 15 students who tore them apart, disassembled, sanded, primed, painted, and hand-polished them. During the bell restoration, students argued over who went to work on it because they all wanted to be able to help.
On an average year, the students fully restore 15 cars and 25 smaller jobs. By restoring something other than a car, the students are getting other hands-on experience in restorations. This shows students that they have other avenues to learn and make money. You will never hear an Auto Body student say they don’t have anything to do. They continue to learn and work on several projects throughout the year.
“I had a mentor when I was young, Rick Hoffman, who in my opinion, was the best of the best, and I only wish I could be as good as he was and pay what he taught me forward. I absolutely love watching these kids grow to not knowing what they’re doing to dive into this bell and wanting to be a part of something so cool,” stated Fronk. Fronk is looking forward to hearing the bells ring on stage at the Centennial Ceremony. All of the students and teachers have been invited to this ceremony.
Special thanks to Ryan Ditacchio, Bernie Harwood and Ed Swain for the guidance and instruction of these great students.