Clearing Out Clay: Memorabilia pick up begins next week

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Some Clay High School Alumni will be able to take home a piece of their legacy before the school closes its doors for good at the end of this month.

If your name or picture lived on the walls of Clay High School, they announced they are hoping to return that memorabilia to the rightful owners.

Those walls and trophy cases are already starting to clear out, with help from athletic director, Al Hartman.

Hartman has spent the final months of his 36-year career at Clay going through hundreds of trophies, pictures, and more trying to get them back to the rightful owners.

“The kids that I have come in contact with those years, both through teaching and coaching, have been some of the most rewarding days of my life so to see it go and everything kind of being over and fade away. It is sad,” said Hartman, who started coaching at the school when he was just 20 years old.

He went on to coach 60 seasons for the Colonials.

“My wife says we have enough Clay memorabilia at home, but I have snuck a few things here and there, again my sons all competed here so I obviously, I shared in their photos around the wall with them and stuff so there’s definitely a family affair going on here too,” said Hartman, when asked what he would be taking home with him.

Hartman is just one of the many with fond memories and pictures up on the walls of the school that opened its doors in 1939.

Among them, the one and only 1994 state championship team.

“It’s heart aching. I think I can speak for myself and all the purple and gold alumni that went through the hallways of Clay High School,” said Jaraan Cornell.

One of Cornell’s fondest memories as a Colonial was scoring the game tying buzzer beater to tie up the state championship game. 

Three decades later, he will take home his life size photo and other memories from the season.

“It was definitely exciting then and now it’s a bittersweet feeling. I mean to be able to get our things is awesome but the fact that they won’t be in the building hanging forever is heart aching in itself,” added Cornell.

All 700 photos and 300 awards have been archived.

Team trophies, banners, and pictures will find a new home at The History Museum in South Bend and Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame.

Others that are not claimed will be moved to storage come June. 

A sense of closure for the Colonials.

“Most of these athletes that are coming to pick up their awards, I’ve had some kind of interaction with them or done other things, so trying to find a way to get it back to those athletes so they can have some of the history of Clay High School,” added Hartman.

Pick up times will include Tuesdays and Thursdays from May 14 to May 30, 4 to 6 p.m. and 9 to 5p.m., June 3 to 7, for those needing alternative scheduling.

Valedictorian photos can also be picked up during these times.

For more information or to arrange a pickup, contact the Clay High School Athletics Department at 574-393-4923.

South Bend Schools says there is still no update on the future of the building.

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