Madison City Schools: Big Changes, Big Payoff


James Clemens High School Main Entrance (PHOTO: David Wood, WHNT)

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UPDATE: James Clemens Community Open House is on Sunday, August 26 at 3pm. Student Open House is Thursday, August 16 at 6pm.

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MADISON, Ala. (WHNT)--Madison City Schools administrators say although there has been plenty of shake up within the system this past year, a brand new high school offers a big payoff for students and teachers who have remained patient, willing and flexible.

"This has been a really big year for changes," says Madison City School Director of Secondary Education Dr. Camille Wright, "because we've really redesigned and recreated the whole secondary program."

Madison's middle schools will now be home to 7th and 8th grade students only. This year, freshmen will once again be considered high schoolers in Madison, joining upperclassmen at Bob Jones and James Clemens. This has resulted in student school changes, adaptations to middle school feeder patterns and teacher transfers.

"So that's been a real challenge and a lot of excitement with it to," says Wright.

Most of the excitement comes from the opening of Madison's newest high school--and the state's largest--James Clemens High.

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Wednesday WHNT News 19 got our first look inside the massive, state-of-the-art facility. Forget prison gray, color--like lime green, purple yellow and blue--will greet new students and teacher Monday. The two-story, 328,000-square-foot complex boasts open light-filled classrooms, a large gymnasium any sports fanatic could be proud of and modern science labs that can be used for career technical studies including bio-medical research. The auxiliary gym and auditorium double as storm shelters with the gym having the capacity to safely hold 3,000 people.

Dr. Camille Wright says it took a lot of sacrifice and change to get James Clemens up, running and ready for students but that Madison educators share a singular goal:

"That's what you can probably say about Madison City Schools more than anything else is that the teachers really do put the students first."

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