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Parents at Butler YMCA Early Learning Center share reason behind children’s names

Nary a Mary or Larry among tot names
Tiffany Bennetti said her 5-year-old daughter’s name, Nora, fits the youngster. Paula Grubbs/Butler Eagle

In decades past, parents felt the need to remain within the confines of conventional names when deciding on a moniker for their baby son or daughter.

Today, moms and dads may choose an unusual name to set their children apart, a family name used generations ago, a word with a special meaning, a character from a book, movie or television show, a traditional name with a unique spelling, or something completely different.

Regarding names in the 21st century, anything goes.

Victoria Stoker, early childhood education coordinator at the Butler YMCA Early Learning Center, said the babies, toddlers and preschoolers there have many and varied names.

When she started her job seven years ago, she saw a lot of Jacksons and Joeys for boys, and Riley was popular for girls.

“We’ve had some interesting names here,” Stoker said.

The center saw a couple boys named Lennon pass through the doors, and Aria, Avery and Aubrey have been seen on the roles recently.

“They’ve always been around, but they’ve been kind of consistent lately,” Stoker said.

Lincoln is another boy’s name that is on the rise at the center, as is Remington for a girl. Most go by “Remy,” she said.

When the movie “Suicide Squad” came out in 2016, many parents named their daughters “Harley” or gave them the middle name “Quinn” after the character Harley Quinn, which was played by Margot Robbie, Stoker said.

She said the center has just one John and one Vincent, but multiple Liams and Owens.

Syvette and Atlas are also the names of two clients at the center.

Haley Dunbar created the first name for her daughter, Riley Kastelic, 5, by using the name “Miley” and switching out the M for an R. Paula Grubbs/Butler Eagle

Haley Dunbar, whose daughter, Rylie Kastelic, 5, attends the center, said she would have been Brantley Gilbert if she had been a boy, after the popular country music singer.

“We wanted Miley, but we knew someone with that name, so we switched the M to an R,” Dunbar said.

Riley’s middle name is Morgan, after her paternal grandmother.

Riley seemed concerned about all the talk about names as she left the Y in the afternoon with her mom.

“I want my name,” she said, indicating she was quite happy with her mother’s choice.

Samantha Hess said the name of her 4-year-old daughter, Blakely, stood out from a list of baby names. Paula Grubbs/Butler Eagle

Samantha Hess, a preschool teacher at the Y, named her daughters Daenerys Sue and Blakely Monroe.

Daenerys, 9, is named for a character from the hit television show “Game of Thrones.”

“I loved how strong the character was,” Hess said. “She’s a boss.”

Sue was the middle name of the girl’s grandmother.

“She has a very unique personality, and it has helped her embrace it and be strong in all areas of her life,” Hess said of Daenerys Sue.

Hess found “Blakely” on a list of baby names and immediately took to the name.

Tiffany Bennetti, also a preschool teacher at the Y, said agreeing on a name with her husband five years ago was stressful for both, but mainly her husband, who was determined to choose a name that could not be morphed into any other word.

“We would pick out a name, and he would be like ‘I can think of five ways kids could make fun of that name,’” Bennetti recalled. “He would take polls with his co-workers.”

The couple settled on “Nora” for their 5-year-old daughter, and “Elliott” for their 2-year-old son.

Now that Nora is 5, Bennetti and her husband are satisfied with their choice.

“It fits her,” Bennetti said.

Amanda McDade, toddler teacher at the Y, has six children. Their 2-year-old daughter is named “Bexley.”

Amanda McDade chose the name for her daughter, Bexley, 2, because it goes with Joanne, which is a family name that she used as Bexley's middle name. Paula Grubbs/Butler Eagle

“We wanted her middle name to be Joanne, after her grandma,” McDade said. “In the process, I Googled ‘first names that go with Joanne,’ and Bexley popped up.”

She does not know the origin or meaning of the name.

“We just liked it,” McDade said. “We thought it was original and unique.”

She named her youngest child, a boy, “Micah.”

“We liked Michael, but it’s so overused,” McDade said. “So we went with Micah.”

Stoker said she can’t put her finger on why, but she discovered one interesting fact when it comes to names.

“You often see the same personality with a certain name,” she said.

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