by Bob Graeff, Class of 1971
For decades, the bell pictured here sat on the blonde Hamilton piano in the choir room at Kearny Junior/Senior High located on the current Montgomery campus and later in Room 801 of the “new” campus of Kearny Senior High School on Wellington Way. Purchased by teacher Richard Zaloudek shortly after beginning his 31 years of teaching at Kearny, the bell was frequently used by Mr. Z as a way to start class and to gain student attention. Similar to a standard bell found commonly on check-in counters at motels or local businesses, this instructional aid was just one of the many instructional tools used by Mr. Z through the years. When his hand tapped the bell and students heard its very distinctive ring, they knew that class was about to start. Or if students became particularly noisy or lost their focus during rehearsal, the director’s hand would again come down on the bell – signaling students to silence their talking and get back on task. Legend has it that the dent on one side of the bell came as a result of a rare loss of temper by Mr. Z when, during a particularly bad day on the old Montgomery campus, he hurled it against a classroom wall, angered that his choir was not as focused as he preferred. Seeing that Mr. Z personally revealed this incident to students years later at the new campus, it is very likely a true story! After three decades of service, the bell was finally retired in spring 1976 along with Mr. Z – but it remains in good hands and is currently in the care of a very responsible former choir member for safekeeping. Who knows? Perhaps at the next all-decades Choir Reunion, the bell will make another appearance – and we can all remember its cheerful sound, those grand rehearsals, and our wonderful Mr. Z.