by Rachel Gould
It starts simply enough. The empty seats in Loyd Auditorium slowly fill as streams of students and faculty trace the path they will follow every morning throughout the school year to chapel. But this morning is different. This morning is the beginning of a new year, and with it comes the inaugural chapel known as the Tolling of the Bell.
This year’s Tolling of the Bell followed the established ceremonial form. Inside the auditorium, new freshmen clustered together at the front of the auditorium, nerves and excitement lining their faces, while around them, smiles lit the faces of upperclassmen who were greeting old friends. My face was one of the new ones as I was attending my very first chapel at Freed-Hardeman, and from my seat, I watched the as the professors processed in, their Hogwartesque robes billowing about them, and as new students repeated the Freshman Pledge, committing to continue the “legacy of service” on which FHU is founded.
Then came the moment: the tolling of the bell. Every year since 2000, the bell has rung in the school new year, one toll for each decade of FHU’s existence. The privilege of ringing it goes to the Master of the Bell, an individual or couple special to the university who is selected to ring the bell. As this year’s Masters pulled the rope, which set the bell ringing, time seemed to pause. With each of the fourteen bongs, memories from FHU’s past seem to flood the auditorium, mingling with the present and pledging the incoming class a time of adventure and growth. In that instant, the wisdom and heritage of the past rose to greet the promise of the future held in the hands of these students, and with it, a new school year began at Freed-Hardeman University.