Go Belles! Proudly, Mount St. Mary athletic teams have boasted the Belles name for nearly 75 years.
The original school mascot began as the Gazelle, mentioned in several yearbooks in the late 1930s. More widely associated with Mount St. Mary Academy, however, quickly became the bell given by Bishop Andrew Byrne of Arkansas at the school’s first location, his downtown home. When the school moved to its present location, the bell sat atop the old school building and rang each day, providing regular reminders of the city’s Catholic school for girls. The bell tower also became a destination for students daring enough to climb undeterred to ring the bell for all to hear.
It was around 1940 that the school’s chaplain and athletic director, Msgr. Keaney, changed the name of the school’s mascot from Gazelles to Belles. He took the liberty of adding an ‘e’ in a play on words that acknowledged both the beautiful daily bell ringing and the French translation of the word “belle,” meaning beautiful.
Little did Msgr. Keaney know that only five years later the Bing Crosby and Ingrid Bergman film, “The Bells of St. Mary’s,” would be released, further endearing the “Belles” name to the school community. The film naturally became associated with Mount St. Mary Academy, for the school names so closely resembled one another, as did the beautiful music and enduring faith of the Sisters who operated them.
Beautiful, self-assured, strong, progressive women – that is the image of the “Belle.” But as the saying goes, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” not to be pinned down to a single representation. For this reason, our mascot lies in every athlete, choral performer, and student representative. We are more than one mascot, one competitor, and together we are even stronger. That is the power of being a Belle.