Belleville East

Lancer Wall of Fame

Dennis Bechtold Bio

After graduating from McKendree University and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and teaching in two other districts, Dennis was hired at Belleville East in 1967 to teach Social Studies and to coach basketball and baseball. In 1976 he gave up coaching to become athletic director. Dennis held the athletic director position for nineteen years: a tenure no one else has matched. The girls program which was still in its infancy expanded to include soccer, softball and golf while the boys program added soccer. Dennis was responsible for hiring and evaluating coaches, hiring officials, scheduling and supervising all contests. In order to accommodate the expanded program, new facilities were required. Dennis spearheaded the building and updating of facilities at East, West and Althoff to better serve the community and its students as a whole. He took particular pride in being on the core committee which developed and implemented the District 201 athletic drug and alcohol policy.

Belleville East had just entered the Southwestern Conference when Dennis became Athletic Director – a tumultuous time when three schools dropped out. He was instrumental in getting two schools back and adding O’Fallon Township to make the Southwestern Conference the strong, respected conference it is today within the state. Many titles were won by East during his tenure as Athletic Director including three AA state softball championships which are still the only team state champions in the history of the school.

After his retirement, Dennis was Assistant Athletic Director at Belleville East for eight years and was named the first Southwestern Conference Commissioner. He scheduled all conference contests and officials in football and girls basketball and boys basketball. He acted as the liaison among all Southwestern Conference athletic directors and principals. He held this position until 2003.

At the same time he was Athletic Director, he was teaching American Problems a senior current events class which he developed. In 1990 he received the national Cable in the Classroom Award in Washington, D.C. one of only twelve honorees in the country. This award was in recognition of combining the use of Newsweek magazine with the daily student news program Cable in the Classroom for student discussion. Ensuring educated voters was a highlight of his teaching career.

Dennis is an active member of the St. Clair County Historical Society and a regular donor to the Red Cross. He is also a member of First United Presbyterian Church and has been an active volunteer in the community since his retirement.

He has been married to his wife Sue for 48 years. They have two children Kendra (Tim) Gula and Kyle( Kari) Bechtold and four grandchildren, Wyatt, Adelynn, Lillian, and Avery.

In 1995, Jeff became President of a Florida-based biotechnology company before being recruited as Vice President of Business Development at Monsanto in St. Louis for the purpose of developing needed human vaccines and medicines from plants.  Jeff left Monsanto and co-found a bioprocessing start-up company out of the University of Kentucky where he co-invented a bioprocessing platform which became the standard in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries.

He still lives in the St. Louis area where he has been instrumental in the success of several biotechnology and medical device start-up companies across North America and in Europe.  Jeff has served on the Boards of Directors of several biotechnology and medical device companies that significantly improve the quality of global medical care and life in general. He is currently serving as a Director and Chief Strategist of Rebion in Boston.  The United States F.D.A. has recently approved Rebion’s amblyopia (“lazy eye”) screening device whose goal is the global elimination of amblyopia as the leading cause of preventable blindness in children. Rebion is also developing its retinal scanning platform to address the critical, unmet need for traumatic brain injury (TBI) diagnostics by the U.S. Armed Forces, professional and non-professional contact athletes, and citizens in general.  After years of work in biotechnology and biopharmaceutical innovation, Jeff is currently leveraging his experience in the old-school medicinal field of craft spirits and proper Bourbon as co-founder and co-owner of the Mine Hill Distillery in Roxbury, CT.

An outdoorsman and world traveler, Jeff Craig  has been married to his wife Theresa for 35 years and is proud of their accomplished children, Jeffery Lee Craig II, Michael Montgomery Craig, and Margaret Mulier Craig.

Mr. Michael Ti. Clarkston Bio

Michael T. Clarkston, son of Charles and Linda Clarkston, grew up in Fairview Heights, IL with his younger sister Kristina. During his four years at Belleville East HS, Michael spent every moment outside of class in the fine arts. If it wasn’t conducting the marching or pep band as drum major, he was playing first chair french horn in the wind symphony and orchestra, or singing in the show choir. Michael had successful theatre experiences as an actor in several shows, until he realized that while he loved theatre, he was not really passionate about acting. His English teacher and musical director, Kimberly Richey, convinced him to serve as a stage manager for Joseph & Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat  and the next year for The Will Rogers Follies. From this point forward, Michael fell in love with stage managing and knew it would be his future career.  From shooting confetti canons, calling light cues and scene changes, to the responsibility of being in charge of the production as a whole — the adrenaline rush is better than any roller coaster. In addition to his involvement in the music department and theater, Michael served as President of Thespian Society, and he was a member of the National Honor Society as well as the Spanish Honor Society.

Michael attended Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville, earning a degree in Design Technical Theatre with a minor in music. There he achieved the distinction of being the first freshman in school history to stage manage a main stage production (A Doll’s House), and he earned many  honors and awards. Michael was selected to travel to Europe performing in cathedrals and other venues during his final semester.  Michael was also President of SIUE’s school chapter of United States Institute for Theatre Technology his junior and senior years.

After graduating SIUE in 2001, Michael continued to spend the summers working at the St. Louis Muny.  When the Muny season closed, Michael headed to Los Angeles.  Three weeks later he was hired as Production Stage Manager on the Los Angeles Premiere Xanadu Live! where he would later become co-producer.  He was excited to bring the show to his hometown at the Miner’s Theatre in Collinsville, IL before selling creative rights and reinvesting back into the Broadway production of Xanadu which premiered on Broadway in 2007, winning Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Musical, Drama Desk Award for Best Book and being nominated for two TONY Awards for Best Musical and Best Book.

Just after Xanadu Live! Los Angeles ended, Michael was hired for his first Broadway production working as the assistant to the company managers, filling house seats for Disney’s The Lion King. Word traveled quickly and others heard of Michael’s real passion to be a stage manager.  Almost overnight, Michael was working as a substitute stage manager at night, while filling house seats during the day. After one year, Michael became a stage manager and later headed the national tour.

Michael’s hard work and determination didn’t stop here. He would go on to work on over 15 Broadway shows/ tours to date, including Avenue Q; Hairspray; Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang; Million Dollar Quartet; Rent; In the Heights; The Lion King;  Best Little Whorehouse in Texas; Hello, Dolly!; Hairspray; Disney’s Newsies, Anniversary Concert, The Normal Heart with Glenn Close, Jersey Boys Fans Unite w/ Frankie Valli; West Side Story 50th Anniversary Reunion Performance with Chita Rivera; and The Who’s Tommy 15th Anniversary Reunion Concert.  Michael’s company On Que Entertainment has participated in several film festivals across the country, winning numerous awards.  It has expanded into corporate events to help create and manage unique, sometimes larger than life experiences to launch or promote the latest product and brand. Clients include Google, Nickelodeon, MTV, Bravo, and VH1 among many others.

Today Michael’s free time is spent volunteering and raising funds for Actors’ Fund and Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.  He would later work as lead producer (2007 – 2009) earning the review  – “One of BC/EFA’s most cherished techies. Michael Clarkston has gone a long way in a short time to give words like “stability,” “reliability” and “consistency” a good name” – Jody O’Neil / Broadway Cares/ Equity Fights AIDS.”

He recently started working on Wonderama, a revamp of the classic 1955 children’s television game show scheduled to air this October on Saturday nights.

Michael lives in New York but fondly celebrates his years at Belleville East while looking forward to new adventures yet to come.  His mantra is, “Live for today, love for tomorrow, and laugh at all your yesterdays. Never regret the past, always hope for the future, and cherish every moment you have.”

Michael Ti. Clarkston Bio

The son of an Air Force Pilot, Bill Jordan was born in Texas and raised in the Philippines, Delaware, and Belleville, IL. However, he proudly considers Belleville his hometown, as he attended Jefferson Elementary School from Kindergarten through 4th grade and learned to play football at the Belleville Little Devils Football Club. After moving to Dover, DE for 5 years, he returned to Belleville East as a sophomore where he excelled both in academics and in sports.
As a Lancer, Bill was named to the All-Conference, All-Area, All-City, and All-District football teams. In 1989, he led the Southwestern Conference with 993 yards rushing. He also earned a varsity letter in basketball. Off the field, Bill excelled in the classroom. He was inducted into the National Honor Society and named an Illinois State Scholar while earning a 4.03 GPA.
At Princeton University, he majored in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International
Affairs and earned program certificates in American Studies and Afro-American Studies.

In 1991, Bill led the freshmen football team in rushing. He played varsity football from 1992-1994 and earned a place in the Princeton record book, where he ranks 10th all-time in carries in a season – 204 in 1994 – and 15th all-time for yards per carry in a career (4.24). Additionally, he was a member of the 1992 Ivy League Championship Team, scored a touchdown in the 1995 Epson Ivy Bowl in Osaka, Japan, and was awarded the 1994 Charles W. Caldwell Award, which is given to the senior member of the team who has shown the most improvement in football during his years at Princeton. In recognition of his success on the field and in the classroom, he was named to the 1994-95 Academic All-Ivy team and awarded the Charles W. Caldwell Graduate Fellowship to fund graduate school studies.

Growing up near East St. Louis inspired Bill’s passion for community development, financial literacy, and community service. After graduating, Bill accepted a Princeton Project 55 public service fellowship and moved to the South Side of Chicago to direct the Ariel Foundation’s daily tutoring/mentoring program for 40 teenagers. Bill extended his fellowship for three additional years, and during that time, 85% of his students graduated from high school versus a local average of 32%.

Additionally, he led college tours throughout the country, counseled families through the college application process, co-chaired the Ariel-Nuveen Stock Club to teach South Side children how to invest, and served on the Local School Council of Ariel Community Academy, an innovative public school focused on financial literacy.

In 1999, he earned a Consortium for Graduate Study in Management Fellowship to attend the University of North Carolina’s Master of Business Administration program.
There, he distinguished himself as a business writer and won two national essay contests prior to graduating in 2001.

Over the last 15 years, Bill has worked for Wells Fargo’s Commercial Real Estate Group in New York, NY and Washington, DC. While ascending from Summer Intern to Senior Vice President, Bill has financed more than $1B of real estate projects in urban locations across the country. Bill also promotes Diversity and Inclusion, team member engagement, and retention through his work for the Development and Engagement Council.

Bill resides in Arlington, VA and has served in various volunteer roles with Princeton AlumniCorps (formerly known as Princeton Project 55) since 2002, including serving on the Board of Directors and helping place more than 100 Princeton graduates in non-profits throughout New York City as a member of the New York Operating Committee. He remains an active volunteer in his community.