Howland Class of 1980 to donate victory bell

Dr. Byron Rossi knew his Howland High School Class of 1980 has given scholarships to many graduating seniors.

“I wanted to give something back more long-lasting and permanent – bricks and mortar-type of legacy for our class,” said Rossi, a former football player for Howland.

The Canton-based dentist knew full well about Ohio State’s tradition of ringing the victory bell and singing Carmen Ohio (OSU’s alma mater) following football games.

Even though OSU’s bell is in a tower, Rossi wanted the Class of 1980 to give his high school alma mater a similar tradition as well – something closer to the Howland fan base.

The Class of 1980 is donating a victory bell to be placed near the flagpole and band shelter inside Richard Lombardo Stadium.

“Byron had called me and asked me about a victory bell or doing something in the stadium,” Howland Athletic Director Ron McCleary said. “He mentioned the bell. I thought it was a good idea. A lot of schools have it. We have a great spot for it. We actually did a little research and saw some schools that had them.”

The brick base, which will be colored orange, is slated to be 40 inches high by 40 inches wide, according to Rossi. The bell will be black, to go along with the school’s color scheme.

“We want to concentrate on making the designs and everything just right on it so it will be there a long time,” Rossi said. “If it’s not ready by the opener, that’s OK. We want it ready for the homecoming.”

This donation comes in the middle of a campaign where Howland is trying to get turf for its football field in the next couple of years, McCleary said

The donation of the victory bell will cost between $3,500 to 4,000 – all from donations from that Howland class.

Nicolette Bartz Koozer from the Class of 1980 said the money is almost raised.

“We have a lot of commitments from classmates and I hope they come in soon,” she said.

“We are accepting money from our graduates,” Rossi said. “We want to make it purely our gift, not going to other local businesses or other Howland graduates – totally built by our class.”

Howland’s opener is Aug. 30 against Akron Kenmore, while the homecoming is Oct. 4 against Marion Harding. The Tigers have seven home games this season.

“We expect to have it in by the first game,” McCleary said. “We expected to have it completed. It won’t be moved at all when we actually do put turf in. When we put it in, it will be in a permanent spot position.”

A separate tiger is slated to be built next to the victory bell, Rossi said.

“Even if we don’t have a tiger by Aug. 30 or even Oct. 4, the stand will definitely be up,” he said. “It will be separate because it’s a decent-sized tiger in front of the bell. It will be a two-tiered brick mounting. At the lower level, dead center, we want to get a tiger’s head. Behind that, just a little bit elevated from that, will be the bell.”

McCleary said the victory bell will be a source of pride for years to come.

“We think it’s going to be something that’s going to be great for our kids, the band and the football team,” he said. “We’re going to place it near the flagpole, which is right next to the band shell. Like a lot of schools, at the conclusion of the game, win or lose, our players stop to sing the alma mater. Of course, we think that victory bell is going to be a source of pride for us following games, ring it a couple of times in victory. Then, engage it with the band in singing the alma mater. We think it’s going to be something that’s going to be good for our stadium and be just another source of pride within our stadium and our school district.”