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James Clemens High principal Dr. Brian Clayton was one of a select few to host a virtual conference presentation for the 24th annual AHSAA Summer Conference held via the internet. The longtime educator hosted his presentation at Toyota Field. Photo contributed

James Clemens’ Dr. Brian Clayton Speaks To AHSAA Summer Conference

MADISON- Dr. Brian Clayton was proud and excited about having the chance to take part in the 24th annual Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) Summer Conference held for the first time virtually. Clayton hosted a live presentation via the internet during day one of the three-day event on the subject titled “Opening School In Today’s World.”

“I was asked to speak on the opening of the upcoming school year from a large school perspective and much of my information came from within the skeleton plan set forth by Alabama School Superintendent Eric Mackey who had released his plan on July third for school opening,” said Clayton. “The Madison City Schools were hosting a school system retreat at the home of the Rocket City Trash Pandas and I was able to arrange for a room to accommodate my time of my presentation. Albert Weeden, principal at Loachapoka High School, also presented from a class 1-A school perspective.”

The annual conference is usually held during the week of the North-South All-Star competition and the face-to-face interaction among the more than 4,000 attendees takes place in Montgomery. This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the virtual conference was held in its place with the presentations shown on the NFHS Network. A wide variety of presenters from numerous expertise areas of education and health made up this year’s conference.

The 50-year old Clayton has been the only principal in the history of James Clemens High, which will see its ninth year of educating Madison’s youth during the upcoming 2020-2021 school year. This will be his 21st year as a school principal with previous stops at Liberty Middle School, Rock Quarry Middle School, Tuscaloosa Middle School, Thomasville High School and Hale County High School. He was also a mathematics teacher from 1993-1998 at Greensboro West High School. Clayton, who holds an Education Doctorate from the University of Alabama, has also been a coach in both football and girls’ basketball.

Clayton has been an Elder and Deacon in his church.

As for athletics in Madison or across the state, Clayton said the Madison City Schools are looking at three possible scenarios- push back the seasons until later dates, shortened seasons in an attempt to adjust to match the COVID-19 results, or cancellation of all athletics.

“Some nearby states have looked at flipping the fall season sports to spring, but that has not happened in Alabama,” added Clayton. “We have 2,200 students at James Clemens and that fact will make it difficult to social distance. We may have to eat lunch at a more controlled situation, whether that be in the classroom or at a distance in the cafeteria. We’re also making plans to not allow a mass amount of people at the entrance of our school. Bus transportation will also be an issue, but we’re looking at that very intently.”

Clayton strongly urged the idea of choices on what to do during the pandemic could change tomorrow and not everything is currently set in stone. His abundant amount of experience in education has taught him to be patient and look for what’s best for the students.

“I was glad to help out the AHSAA Conference as all of those associated with the AHSAA are wonderful to work with and I feel privileged to help them,” said Clayton.

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