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The story of the BAC bell

Category: Option E Educating

Submitted by on Tue 21/11/17 16:46

It was 9am on Friday morning, November 17, 2017. Light filtered through the feathery leaves of a poiciana tree, dappling the surface of the old BAC school bell silver and grey. The bell was ready for a brand new College graduation ceremony, restored and mounted in its new timber frame beside the bridge that arcs between primary and secondary campuses.

In an hour’s time, blue-gowned graduates would answer the roll call for the last time, swing the clapper against the side of the bell, and form a line along the length of the bridge. When the Class of 2017 were fully answered for, they would then proceed through a guard of honour on the other side of the bridge. 

The reason the old BAC school bell has become the focal point of our current traditions is because of its significance to our past. It comes with a story that began when a BAC alumni member brought the bell to the attention of Mrs Entermann at the College’s 50th anniversary celebrations last year.

“I was a new principal at BAC and didn’t know much about College history. But a member of the College alumni chatted with me about the bell, its significance to the school, and its special significance to her family. That’s what started us on a pathway that ended at our ceremony today,” said Mrs Entermann.

Sherylea Girle was one of five Hinrichsen children enrolled when the College first opened its doors in 1966 under the leadership of Mr Irwin Lowe. She was in Year 2 and four other Hinrichsen siblings were also enrolled: Val in Year 7, Bill in Year 5, Fred in Year 3 and Carolyn in Year 1. The Hinrichsen family were a significant proportion of the school population of 85 children.

Life was not easy for the Hinrichsen family. Their father, Josias Earnest Hinrichsen, died in 1966 after a prolonged illness. The children remember him as a gentle, soft-spoken man who was a Church of Christ minister and teacher before becoming Seventh-day Adventist and then going into dairy farming, like his parents. In memory of their father, Mrs Grace Hinrichsen donated the bell to the school.

Sherylea remembers the bell being mounted on the eastern end of the primary classrooms. “Mum was so proud and honoured to see the bell mounted on the school wall. It had a special plaque dedicated to my father. I suppose you could say we kids felt pretty special when that bell was rung every day.”

After Josias died, the family struggled financially. The children took on after-school work at small businesses in Mount Gravatt. “And we were all allocated jobs at home. We had to pull our weight. No treats or anything. It was exciting when you got to have a soft drink on Christmas day!” says Sherylea.

By 1969, Grace decided to move the children to her brother’s farm in Monto, where it was cheaper to live and they could attend the local public school. The girls held out hope that one day they might return to BAC and that day finally arrived when Sherylea finished primary school and her mother arranged for her to attend and board with a local family in Brisbane. This meant that she could rejoin her class (now Year 8) and be among the first students to attend the newly-opened secondary school. A year later, Carolyn joined Sherylea at BAC. The girls finished their formal schooling at the end of Year 9 and began full time work.

They returned as honoured guests last Friday, accompanied by their older half-brother Doug Lavers McBain, who taught physics, chemistry and biology at BAC in 1981.

“Watching the Year 12 students graduate brought up mixed emotions,” says Carolyn. “We had some terrific times here as students, but we didn't get to graduate like they did here today. Still, to know that each year this bell will be brought out and every Year 12 student will get to ring it from now on, is just fantastic.”

Mrs Entermann paid her respects to the Hinrichsen family and the bell in her speech to the students and College community: “A fitting symbol of the past and present, the bell resounds with the memories of years gone by as well as with the celebration of milestones achieved. In the same way that the tolling bells of old personified worship, the end of war, marriage, or the end of a life, after the BAC bell is struck for the last time, the BAC bell will continue to resonate with our shared history. We hope this tradition is treasured by our graduates for many years to come.”


Photo 1: Hinrichsen family members Sherylea Girle, Doug Lavers McBain, and Carolyn Chippendale standing beside the BAC bell with Mrs Entermann.

Photo 2: BAC graduates line up for the final roll call where they will ring the BAC bell and cross the bridge in a meaningful new ceremony.

NOTE: Thanks Mr Whaytt for keeping the bell safe in the archive room, and thanks Mr Leeson for restoring it to its former glory.


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