Thorsby holds surprise celebration for Clements

Published 1:30 pm Friday, January 13, 2023

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By Carey Reeder | Staff Writer

Friends, family and coworkers piled into the Thorsby High School on Jan. 12 for a surprise celebration for new Chilton County Schools Superintendent and former Thorsby Principal Corey Clements.

Corey Clements, who served as a teacher, coach, principal and everything in between for Thorsby, had no idea about the event that was spearheaded by his wife, Erin.

“It was very hard (to keep it a secret), and he really did not want us to do anything because he never wants anything to be about him,” Erin Clements said. “I set up a private event on Facebook and asked everyone to keep it a secret, and I think everyone did a good job helping me with that.”

Corey Clements was coaching his son’s basketball practice at the elementary school gym across the Thorsby campus from the high school gym. When the gym was packed with people, his son escorted him to the gym where everyone was waiting.

“It just shows how special of a place Thorsby is … It is more of a family than a community, and it is a really special place,” Corey Clements said. “They loved me and my family for a long, long time and I was surprised, but I am not shocked that these people treat me like this because these are the best people I know.”

Refreshments, a celebration table featuring old Thorsby yearbooks and a slideshow of photos of Corey Clements with friends and family played throughout the event. A Thorsby backdrop was displayed for photos with the newly named superintendent as well.

A few of Corey Clements’ close friends spoke to the crowd about the impact he has made at Thorsby.

“I am so happy that everyone came out and showed how much they appreciate him,” Kris Wood, Thorsby girls basketball coach, said. “He has done so much for our school, and we are going to miss him, but I know he is going to do wonderful things for the whole county and the greater good. I am happy for him, but sad for us.”

Wood, who Corey Clements described as his best friend, and Corey Clements have known each other since their grade school days and continued to grow their friendship into their adult years.

“He is a great guy, and he loves this place,” Wood said. “It was never a chore for him to come up here and do things because he loves it so much. You cannot make everyone happy all of the time, but everything he has done he has tried to do the right thing.”

Corey Clements spent 1981-1993 as a student at Thorsby before going off to college and graduating. Upon graduation, he returned to Thorsby in 1998 and stayed through 2022. Corey Clements spent 19 years as a teacher and six years as a principal at Thorsby.

“I am 47 years old, and I have spent 37 years inside these buildings,” Corey Clements said. “I feel like I was raised here, I grew up here, I learned how to be a professional here, I learned how to manage people, and I am still learning things. I cannot imagine having that experience anywhere else. It has been a pleasure to serve here.”

The celebration lasted a few hours in the gym with attendees mingling and telling stories about their times with Corey Clements over the years.

“This is what I had hoped for when we decided we wanted to do this,” Erin Clements said. “I wanted it to be about him and his service to the school and the community, and all I wanted was for people to come out and celebrate him and what he has done. It is amazing.”