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Students walking on campus

Belmont Hill Dedicates New Bench on Campus

Belmont Hill students and faculty have noticed that a new reflective bench has been installed on campus, in the place where a bell once stood for nearly a century. In the spring of 2018, a number of Belmont Hill students did extensive research on the history of this Bell and ultimately presented to the Board of Trustees about its origin, which was in fact from a sugar plantation in Cuba. While it is impossible to know precisely where it came from, the School now knows with confidence that this bell was used to call enslaved people to work for a period of time before landing at Belmont Hill.

During the summer of 2020, a vocal group of Belmont Hill alumni came together with petitions and social media accounts to remind the School of this history and to express how its presence impacted their experience on our campus. Shortly thereafter, our Board of Trustees unanimously agreed that it was time for it to be removed and a task force was formed to consider a new home for the Bell along with a deeper consideration of our school’s history.

The bell now resides at the Robbins House in Concord, where it will serve as part of the larger educational story about African American history and the connections of slave labor to New England. The School’s hope was to find a partner who could capture the Bell’s educational power and could allow Belmont Hill boys to interact with it in the future.

After some opening remarks, Greg Schneider, Ronald M. Druker ’62 Head of School, then introduced the first speaker, Maria Madison, Executive Director of the Robbins House. She shared a few thoughts about the mission of the Robbins House and the possibilities of the new partnership. The next speaker was Greg Paul, from Belmont Hill’s Class of 2009. He was a member of the task force and was elected to our Board of Trustees at the School’s most recent corporation dinner. Greg offered some reflections on the significance of this moment as well as the bench and its inscription. Finally, the vice president of our Board of Trustees and Centennial Chair Bill Achtmeyer from the Class of ‘73 closed with some words about our Centennial celebration next year.

         “My hope is that when this ceremony has passed, and this space becomes a permanent part of our campus, you will remember its significance,” Mr. Schneider said in his opening remarks. “And, that you might help me remind the new boys who will join us next year, and the year after, that this is a space that calls upon all of us to make Belmont Hill the best possible version of itself. The challenge that is implicit in this bench is shared by all of us just as this school belongs to all of you.”

          

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