SOUTH COUNTRY SCHOOLS

Petition calls for renaming of Bellport Middle School

Glenn Rohrbacker
Posted 7/2/20

A petition has started circling online calling for the renaming of Bellport Middle School to John E. Conquest Middle School, after the longtime educator and coach.

“I would like to …

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SOUTH COUNTRY SCHOOLS

Petition calls for renaming of Bellport Middle School

Posted

A petition has started circling online calling for the renaming of Bellport Middle School to John E. Conquest Middle School, after the longtime educator and coach.

“I would like to request that the South Country School District honor John Conquest by renaming the Bellport Middle School in his honor,” the petition, started on www.change.org, reads. “I suggest this because the middle school is where John worked for many years, helping to mold the futures of thousands of South Country students.”

Conquest was an administrator for years in the South Country District, including as assistant principal at the middle school and high school. He started volunteering as a coach for the football program when it started in 1976, according to the book, “Bellport Football: A Proud Tradition” by Christopher Vaccaro. Inside the schools, he was known for being close with students, where he even seemed like their friend, but also had no problem laying down the law, according to the book. He was also known for his connections to the black community and served as a role model for kids, Vaccaro wrote. Conquest was one of the inaugural members of the Bellport Football Hall of Fame, and the district named the BMS football field in his honor. Conquest died at 73 after a battle with cancer in 2013.

The petition has earned just over 3,200 signatures as of Tuesday, with a goal of 5,000. The South Country School District released a statement to the Advance on Monday about the effort:

“The district is unaware of a petition on change.org to change the name of Bellport Middle School. However, the board does have a policy regarding nam- ing of facilities, and any future requests would be guided by Board Policy (#3180).”

That policy, titled Naming of School Facilities, Signage and Memorials/Public Dedication, states that “the Board shall not name or rename any building for an individual.” The policy was passed on March 26, 2014. It would require a change of policy for the ability to name the building after Conquest. The policy does allow for other district facilities to be renamed.

“Like other assistants at Bellport, Conquest’s legend will always be around,” Vaccaro wrote.

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