# SF496

What's in a name? For some teenagers, a lot

Photo of Academy of Mount St. Ursula in The Bronx, New York is by Bernie Scolaro and published with permission.

Bernie Scolaro is a retired school counselor, a past president of the Sioux City Education Association, and former Sioux City school board member.

In the fall of 1972, I was a shy 9th grader entering Mt St. Ursula high school in The Bronx. My legal name was Mary Bernadette, but I always went by my middle name, Bernadette. The first day of classes, teachers had us standing in the front of their rooms until our names were called to be seated according to their seating charts. Each time I heard “Mary” called out, I corrected the teacher and said that I go by my middle name “Bernadette.” First day, every class. I was so embarrassed.

Friends I met in high school soon started calling me Bernie, which has stuck to this day. I never asked to shorten my name to Bernie, since my parents always felt it sounded too “boyish.” However, I did feel that Bernie much more suited my personality, and Bernadette was a bit too formal for this tomboy who liked sports.

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