April 12, 1972, THE BELL BUCKLE SKY was indeed ablaze. The school that housed grades 1-12 was fully engulfed and a total loss.
Bell Buckle students finished the school year at Wartrace School. In the fall, the schools merged into a single student body in the Wartrace building until final plans could be approved.
The impact of the Bell Buckle School loss was two-fold. Due to the declining rural population and the quickly deteriorating condition of the county’s schools, the rebuilding needed to address consolidating area schools. In particular, it was being considered that Bell Buckle, Wartrace, and Normandy unite, but the communities were hardly united.
From spring 1972 until early 1975, the issue was highly debated. Both Bell Buckle and Wartrace communities wanted to retain their own schools. School board members were fighting for more than a new school, as residents clung to local traditions. The resolution would not be an immediate one.
While the construction of a new school moved slowly through the systems, students and faculty joined together in the Wartrace School under a new name, Cascade School. Cascade Springs supplied water to Normandy, Wartrace, and Bell Buckle. It was something that connected the communities. A similar mindset determined the school’s colors and mascot.
After four years of debate and conflict over rebuilding the county’s rural school system structure, a unified program was realized. In 1976, students moved into the new Cascade School building located at the corner of Fairfield Pike and the Bell Buckle – Wartrace Road. Former rivals are now family at the crossroads.
46 years later, the school’s website reads, “From 1972 until resent day, Cascade has striven to provide a learning environment that enriches, challenges, and nourishes students. Because of the students, teachers/staff, and community, Cascade is a special place to be.”