East gym to be named for late former principal
Claude W. Bentley Jr.’s Youngstown City School District career spanned five decades through which he was a teacher, a coach, a mentor, an assistant principal, a dean and a principal.
Much of that time was at the old East High School where his teaching career began in 1974 and where he served as principal and assistant principal in the 1990s.
Although Bentley died July 12, 2013, his family and the city school district and East High administrations are making sure his memory lives on.
At 3 p.m. Tuesday, the East High Gymnasium will be renamed the Claude W. Bentley Jr. Memorial Gymnasium. The dedication will coincide with East’s senior awards ceremony when four student-athletes will receive the Claude W. Bentley Jr. Memorial Scholarship as well.
Jonathan Bentley, one of Claude Bentley Jr.’s two sons, believes it’s a fitting tribute to his dad.
"My father dedicated most of his professional life to East High School as a teacher, coach and administrator,” he said. “Renaming the gymnasium in combination with the Claude W. Bentley Jr. Scholarship ensures that his passion, hard work and love for the youth of Youngstown is not forgotten."
The family established the scholarship in January 2014. Each year, it awards at least two $1,000 scholarships to East Golden Bears who exhibit excellence in academics, character and athletics.
“I never had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Bentley,” said Krish Mohip, YCSD chief executive officer. “But I know from the many of his former colleagues and students who I have met that he touched a lot of lives and positively impacted a lot of students with his guidance. Naming the East gymnasium after him is the least we can do.”
East Principal Jeremy Batchelor says the renaming aligns with the school’s and YCSD’s focus on improving school culture.
"One of the major tenets that we have been focusing on at East and in the entire district is ‘culture beats strategy every day,’" Batchelor said. “Thus, we want to continue to bring in the strong pride of the many great things and people that have impacted East High School. Mr. Bentley's service to the students of Youngstown and East High School speaks for itself. We believe this is a way to honor that legacy while showing our students the greatness of the past as they embrace the future.”
Bentley’s family works to keep his legacy going, Batchelor said.
“The Bentley family continues to extend that legacy in a way that continues to benefit our students through the Claude W. Bentley, Jr. Memorial Scholarship Fund,” he explained. “This scholarship is a major contribution to our school family and we appreciate their generosity and partnership in continuing to make East a destination school."