Just as students at Saint Mary Elementary and Mater Dei High School were packing up to go home around 2:12 p.m. on Wednesday, the sound of bells from Saint Mary, Mother of God Church filled the air.
A thousand students instantly understood the message. It meant news from the Vatican, that a new pope had been elected to succeed Pope Benedict.
"Before there was Internet, before there was TV, radio, all kinds of digital media, and even the printing press, the bells were the method of mass communication," said Mater Dei Principal Steven Sciarappa.
"It goes back to church tradition. When something important happened in a local village or town square, or even a city as big as Paris or Rome, it was the church bells, in the biggest buildings in the area, that announced the news.
"Those bells were not only the biggest news networks of their time, saying 'Everybody perk up, pay attention, something major is happening,' but it was also a call to prayer.
Father Jeff Kegley said the bells were scheduled to play, with breaks, until 8 p.m.
Although the sound emanates from a tall bell tower at the large brick church, the bells are actually recorded sound.