New book tells the story of K-State’s Bluemont Bell

The journey of "Listen and You Can Hear the Call" began as an idea, brought to life by Nancy Hause and Dean of the College of Education Debbie Mercer. (Dylan Connell | Collegian Media Group)

Editor’s Note: This story has been corrected for accuracy regarding the date of presentation. The Collegian apologizes for this error.

On Dec 1, Kansas State’s College of Education faculty presented students and teachers in Wabaunsee USD 329 with copies of “Listen and You Can Hear the Call.” The book tells the story of Bluemont Bell — on display outside the College of Education’s Bluemont Hall.

Nancy Hause wrote the book in honor of her husband, Richard Hause, who taught in the College of Education. The book follows the bell’s journey from 1861 to the present. The story includes artwork from students at both K-State and the Wabaunsee USD 329 school district.

Debbie Mercer, dean of the College of Education, said, historically, bells symbolize education. Therefore, when first-year and transfer students enter the College of Education, she rings the Bluemont Bell to welcome them to the college. Then, graduates can ring the bell themselves following their commencement.

“[It’s] that symbolism of moving from student to professional educator,” Mercer said. “So, the bell has become just a very strong tradition.”

The bell’s importance to the College of Education made Mercer wonder about its history.

(Jared Shuff | Collegian Media Group)
The Bluemont Bell is located outside Bluemont Hall. (Jared Shuff | Collegian Media Group)

“I turned to Nancy Hause, who’s a donor and a supporter of the College of Education, and asked her because of her background in the School of Journalism to write the story of the bell,” Mercer said.

While Hause conducted research that included assistance from the Riley County Historical Society, Cyndi Kuhn, instructor of both art education and the K-12 online teaching program at K-State, began work on the illustrations. She tasked her fall 2020 students to create artwork of the bell.

“I gave them the assignment, and the dean made a little video to inspire them about where the idea came from,” Kuhn said. “I told them they could use any medium they wanted.”

After about a month and a half, the students submitted their artwork for review.

“We had 120 submissions from students in both elementary and secondary art methods courses,” Mercer said. “Then we had a juried show, and that was very difficult to narrow it down to the number you see in the book.”

Alicia Stott, K-8 art teacher for Wabaunsee USD 329 and doctoral student in curriculum and instruction, served as a graduate assistant for Kuhn. She wanted her students in the Wabaunsee school district to create artwork for the book.

“For them to actually see their own work in a published, real piece of art, I think it’s probably mind-blowing,” Stott said.

She said the project was a positive experience for her students.

“I’m just in awe. I just love getting my students out there,” Stott said. “I love exposing them, plus now they can go see the real bell at Kansas State.”

Now that the book is published, Mercer said Hause provided enough books for students from the College of Education to receive a copy at graduation.

(Dylan Connell | Collegian Media Group)
(Dylan Connell | Collegian Media Group)

“They’ll be able to take that into their classroom with them,” Mercer said. “I think it also gives them a deeper sense of Kansas State University, and who we are, and our purpose, and that our mission has been consistent for 160-plus years.”

Kuhn said the book would help graduates remember their time at K-State.

“It will be a great keepsake for them because they spent all that time in Bluemont Hall and walked past that bell daily,” Kuhn said. “It’s an important part of their College of Education experience.”

In all, Mercer said this is the type of project that highlights how remarkable K-State is.

“Our laboratories are public schools — that’s where we place our students,” Mercer said. “So anytime we can work on a project like this is just a wonderful way to celebrate what makes our teacher preparation program so special and so unique.”

Copies of “Listen and You Can Hear the Call” are available for purchase on the College of Education’s website.