City schools approve new hoops program

Following approval by the Clinton City School Board on Thursday, a new pilot program will establish a basketball program for city schools.

Boys and girls teams will tip-off later this fall. The teams will be composed of fifth and sixth grade students from Clinton, North Clinton, and South Clinton Elementary Schools, meaning all three schools will combine under the umbrella of Clinton City Schools.

The team name will be the “Blaze.” Kelly Johnson, Director of Clinton City Schools, said the name is appropriate for the program.

“Because we would be creating the fire for the Dragons,” she said.

Johnson said she wanted to see the basketball program established because the school system has made an effort to further develop the fine arts and music programs in all three schools. Adding athletics is another dimension of school activities for city school students.

She added that students can play for the Blaze for free whereas some cannot afford to play AAU or other types of organized basketball.

The program can be funded through donations, Johnson said.

“I do think it’s doable,” she said.

The Blaze will play an abbreviated schedule of 10-12 games this fall with a full 18-game schedule coming next year.

Home games will be played this season at the Clinton Community Center. The school system can charge a nominal admission fee and concessions will be available.

Johnson wanted to acknowledge the efforts of City Manager Roger Houck in helping make the community center available — a huge lift in getting the program off of the ground.

“I think it’s a great opportunity,” said Dr. Tim Bible, board chairman.

“I really think this could be big. If we can give one kid an opportunity to play that doesn’t play right now, I’m all in,” said David Queener, board member.

Johnson also wanted to emphasize that The Blaze is not a Clinton Elementary School program. It is a Clinton City Schools program.

The board also voted to hire E.T. Stamey as college/career liaison.

Bible was reelected as board chairman while Merle Pryse was reelected vice-chair.

Curtis Isabell was reelected PLN representative.

Johnson also announced city enrollment for the opening week was 938, an increase of 61 students over last year.