We lived across from a school in Canada for nearly ten years. It was nice to have the schoolyard and playground to use during off-hours, but during school hours, it could be a pretty unpleasant experience due not only to the kids’ non-stop screaming, but to the bells ringing at all hours.
Oy, the bells!
Even on holidays and long weekends when there was no school, they’d forget to shut them off and they’d ring practically non-stop. And what a harsh sound: an institutional clanging that shook the entire neighbourhood and interrupted anything else you might have had going on.
Here in Israel, there are lots of schools… but, it seems, there are no school bells.
Instead, each school reminds students of the start of the day and transitions between classes with a chimey-chime tune that blasts from speakers mounted on the outside of the school (presumably, they have speakers inside the school as well) like the cheerful song of an ice-cream truck.
These are usually universal kid-friendly tunes like “Mary had a little lamb,” “It’s a Small World” and “Ode to Joy,” and although they are pre-recorded, I can’t help imagining a little old lady pianist somewhere in the school office plinking out the tunes on a keyboard to help everybody through their day.
Every school I’ve encountered so far does this – elementary, middle, high school (the one across from us here in the Merkaz Klitah is a high school). I haven’t heard a single schoolbell. We were in a new neighbourhood the other day; actually, the one we’re planning to move to at the end of this month, when I heard an unfamiliar tune playing, so I turned around to look. Akiva said, “it’s just a school bell.”
It may be just another school bell, but I truly think this is one of those wonderful things about Israel that nobody bothers to tell you.
So I’m telling you. :-)