May 10 2007

From AHS to West Point

The Sand Mountain Reporter

By George Jones
The famous “Long Gray Line” of the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., has stretched its way into the halls of Albertville High School.

AHS senior, Casey Clemons, received word of his appointment to the educational institution, established through legislation signed by President Thomas Jefferson in 1802, from Sen. Richard Shelby.

Shelby said, “I believe that Casey is an outstanding candidate for admission to the United States Military Academy (USMA). He meets the academic, physical and leadership standards set forth by the academy. Casey has expressed the genuine desire to serve his country in this capacity, and I have asked that he be favorably considered for a nomination.”

Clemons also received recommendations for appointment to the academy from President Bush, Congressman Robert Aderholt, as well as AHS’s ROTC leaders.

Clemons, who began corresponding with the academy while in the eighth grade at the Baldwin Magnet School in Montgomery, is following in the military footsteps of his father, Stan Clemons, and uncle, Terry Clemons, both retired Army Colonels. While they chose to make a career out of military service, the pragmatic young Clemons said, “There is a good possibility I’ll make a career out of it, but I’m not going to limit myself and cut off my other options at this time.”

Clemons said his family has been very supportive and hasn’t pushed him in any one direction.

He said, “They have allowed me to make decisions for myself, but made sure I knew what my options are.”

A visit to West Point during spring break reinforced his belief West Point is where he wants to go.

“Some things fall below your expectations, but West Point turned out to be greater than my expectations,” he said.

He was awed by the 205-year history of West Point, highlighted by such names as Eisenhower and McArthur, and its connection to the American Revolution and America’s rich history.

At the academy, Clemons had the opportunity to see an academic day firsthand with an academy plebe (a first year student).

Clemons said the academy utilizes the Thayer System, wherein students study class materials then spend time having questions answered during class time.

“They want you to succeed, so they prepare you as much as they can,” Clemons, an Eagle Scout, said.

As to the physical rigors of life at the academy, Clemons, who lettered three years in varsity football at AHS said, “I’ve been training, and football has kept me in good shape.”

As with most physically active young men Clemons was impressed with the academy’s cafeteria, “They have pretty good food.” Adding, “It was incredible how they could move and feed some 4,000 in 30-minutes.”

Clemons will fly to West Point on July 1 to begin his physical training on July 2, and make adjustments in preparation for his first semester at the academy.

AHS Principal Paul McAbee said, “Casey is a good student and athlete.” Adding, “He is a top notch, perfect example of a kid with good parents who was raised properly.”

The intelligent, athletic, handsome young man who will receive an education valued at nearly $350,000 said, “I’m ready for it to happen.”