East High tradition endures

What a difference a year makes.
Last year at this time, the East High School Alumni Association was making plans for its first dinner-dance recognition banquet honoring the achievements of prominent alumni.
The association, as well as the East High Hall of Fame and other East Side organizations, also was basking in the successful attempt to retain the name East High for the new high school under construction on Parker Street and Bennington Avenue.
There was an attempt by some citizens to rename the new school. They thought that since this would be the first new high school erected in years, the building should have a new moniker and lobbied to have it named P. Ross Berry High School.
Berry was a prominent black architect who was responsible for constructing many of the city's buildings in the late 1800s.
The alumni association led the charge to persuade the board to retain the name East High School. After a 4-3 vote, the board decided to keep the name. The new East Side middle school will carry Berry's name.
Objectionable changes
The mood has changed in 2005, however, as the EHSAA prepares for its second banquet Aug. 12 at Mr. Anthony's in Boardman. The association has taken on another battle, one it may lose this time.
EHSAA and other East Siders assumed that since the school would retain the East High name, the school's traditional mascot (golden bear) and its colors (blue and gold) also would remain.
The board voted that the new high school also would have a new mascot and new colors. When the school opens in fall 2007, the mascot name, right now, will be called Panthers, and the new colors will be silver and light blue. Some student or students also will have to write a new alma mater.
Students created a ballot for new mascots and colors and the bear and blue and gold colors weren't on it, Superintendent Wendy Webb said at this week's board meeting. One board member suggested the body should reconsider the issue.
I am an East High alum, and the only thing that troubles me is whether the decision made was fair.
If this ballot put together by student advisers included the school's original mascot and colors, and the children voted for something new, that's fine with me.
However, if the wishes of East Side students never made this ballot -- a ballot that some board members admitted they had never seen before voting for the change -- then that's unfair.
Petition to keep tradition
East Middle School pupils did sign and send this letter and petition to the board:
"Youngstown East High/Middle School has made a big contribution to our students both former and present.
"This legacy of powerful words comes from the pride of more than 75 years of experience and wisdom. Many of today's success stories have graduated or attended this legendary school. This list includes doctors, lawyers, architects, educators, engineers, and the list goes on.
"To change our mascot and school colors would crush the hearts of these people, so help us by signing this petition so that we can continue this tradition for many more years.
"Students, former students, parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents support this effort. Help us let the 'Golden Bears' continue to shine!"
I believe the decision to change the mascot and school colors was an attempt to make everyone happy. The East Siders still have the name East High; students from other sides of town who will attend the new school would have a new mascot name and colors to begin a new tradition.
However, if the decision had been made to build a new high school on the North or South sides, would the board have agreed to change the mascot and colors?
Regardless of the final decision, one thing the board can never rescind or change is our 75-year tradition and heritage. Remember our EHS motto: "Once a Golden Bear, always a Golden Bear."

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