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Clay alumni can fetch sports, valedictorian memorabilia before school closes for good

If your name or face adorns the halls of soon-to-be-closed Clay High School, maybe on a plaque or in a trophy case, you can pick up the items starting next week.

Starting Tuesday, the Clay High School Athletics Department invites alumni to pick up their own memorabilia displayed in the halls before the school closes for good in three weeks.

This only applies to individual awards. The corporation will donate team photos, trophies, banners and plaques to museums and halls of fame.

Past valedictorians can also pick up their photos at this time. They include actor Dean Norris, best known for his role as DEA Agent Hank Schrader on Breaking Bad. A friend who still keeps in touch with Norris plans to pick up his photo, according to Al Hartman, Clay’s athletic director.

Hartman has been working on the project for three months. There are some 700 photos, 300 trophies and 100 banners.

Hartman has coached or administered sports at the school for 26 years, and his four children graduated there.

"So there's a lot of personal investment in everything we're doing," Hartman said. "So I want to make sure all of those kids get the stuff back that has their name on it or their record on it. It has been quite the process."

Hartman said for three months the school staff has been archiving the materials, so that they'll be available for public viewing online at some point.

Alumni can retrieve the items Tuesday and Thursdays in May from 4 to 6 p.m., and from June 3-7 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Meanwhile, the group Save Clay Inc. recently obtained status as a 501(c)4 nonprofit, which allows them to engage in political activity, according to their attorney Pete Agostino. He said the group plans use that status to get involved in future school board elections.

The building’s fate remains uncertain. Larry Garatoni’s Career Academy Network wants to open a charter school called Clay Academy for grades six through 12 in the building. Indiana law requires public school systems to sell unused buildings to interested charter schools for a dollar.

But South Bend schools plans to continue using the building somehow, whether its administrative space, summer school or vocational training before it builds a new career center.

Parrott, a longtime public radio fan, comes to WVPE with about 25 years of journalism experience at newspapers in Indiana and Michigan, including 13 years at The South Bend Tribune. He and Kristi live in Granger and have two children currently attending Indiana University in Bloomington. In his free time he enjoys fixing up their home, following his favorite college and professional sports teams, and watching TV (yes that's an acceptable hobby).