For this edition of the Helias Alumni Spotlight, we'd like to focus on one of our newest Helias Foundation board members, Mr. Clay Broughton. Clay is a 1995 graduate of Helias Catholic High School and currently serves as the Director of Marketing for Central Bank right here in Jefferson City. He and his wife Erica are both members of St. Martin parish, where their son Axel also attends elementary school.
In addition to serving on the Helias Foundation board of directors, Broughton has also devoted a significant amount of time and effort to serving his community. He is a member of the Cole County Historical Society board of directors. He is also involved with St. Martin fundraising, Citizens for Prop A, and the Boys & Girls Club Student of the Quarter program.
After graduating from Helias, where he participated in the Young Republicans organization as well as Student Council, Broughton attended Columbia College where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in History.
Among Broughton's interests and hobbies outside of history, he enjoys cooking, watching and cheering on the St. Louis Cardinals, reading, home improvement, and generally worrying about things he can't control (his words, not ours).
HF: What are some of your fondest memories of your time at Helias?
CB: "The back-to-school dances were always fun – since it was typically the Friday of our first week back, it usually fell in late August. It signified the end of summer and was always an exciting time to see friends again."
"I enjoyed listening to very loud, obnoxious music in the parking lot before (and after) school. "D'yer Mak'er" by Led Zeppelin was always a favorite of the girls."
"Playing a prank with Bro. Steven involving a voodoo doll, a switchblade, and The Crucible. If you want more information, ask Bro. Steven!"
HF: What impact did Helias and/or your teachers/coaches/etc. make on you? Any specific examples?
CB: "Bro. Steven Schonhoff had a significant effect on my life. His English II class my sophomore year was incredible. The vocab tests were absolutely brutal. But they got results. Before Bro. Steven's course, I could talk. After it, I could speak. It really set the stage for my professional development, first in radio and then in marketing. Both professions are, in essence, all about communication. Bro. Steven gave me that. He also had a dry sense of humor and a quick, wicked wit that belied a sincere care and compassion for us."
"I didn't really realize to what extend his effect was until Robin Williams passed away a number of years ago and I was reminded of a great movie in which he'd starred. In "Dead Poets Society," he played an English teacher (John Keating) at a very conservative, academically elite, all-boys prep school set in New England in the 1950's. It has always been one of my favorite movies and I've always admired the Keating character. He taught in a very unorthodox way, taking what would otherwise be another boring lesson and/or chapter in an endless stream of boring lessons and/or chapters and turning them upside down. It was all done to simply make things more interesting, more relevant to these young men. In the process, he engaged his students, challenged them, and urged them to think for themselves."
"Bro. Steven did all of this and more. He was my John Keating."
HF: How do you feel Helias personally prepared you academically and/or socially for your future (school, career, etc.)?
CB: "I was gifted, but not particularly hard working in high school, nor was I involved in much extracurricular activity. That being said, I distinctly remember thinking my education was very good and that the standards set at Helias were high. This made my further education easier."
HF: Proudest Helias moment for you personally?
CB: "Probably Mr. Welschmeyer telling me I had broken the all-time percentage for ballots cast for Student Council our senior year. I decided to run at the last minute, and did it as more of a joke than anything else. I guess my pledge to bring more vending machines to Helias was universally accepted!"
HF: What does "Helias Community" mean to you?
CB: "It means many things. It means hard work, it means honoring your core values, and it means sticking up for those less fortunate. These are all lessons I learned at Helias."
HF: Why do you think "giving back," either financially or otherwise, is so important when it comes to being a part of the Helias community?
CB: "You learn who you are in high school. It's really that last step from childhood to adulthood. The setting for that growth is crucial. Helias was that place for me, and the community reverberations from my development as well as the thousands and thousands of others who all walked in as children and walked out as adults is significant. That's why giving back is important. Because Helias has given so much to so many."
HF: What was your motivation for joining the Foundation board?
CB: "I was filming a commercial for a corporate sponsor of Helias (Kwik Kar) and during the process of filming, I was walking down the halls and was amazed by how much had changed, but also, how much hadn't changed. Seeing my old locker (it was still there! It was being replaced later that week) hit me like a ton of bricks. A lot of memories came back. Some were painful, but the vast majority were incredibly positive. Helias gave me a lot and I felt like I needed to give it something back."
HF: Tell me a Crusader – family, friend, former teacher/classmate, someone in the Helias community, etc.; can be anyone – who inspires you and why.
CB: "Peter Lyskowski was probably my closest friend at Helias. He was smart, patient, and much more mature than I was at that time (and still is!). His guidance, care and friendship were important parts of my high school experience and I will never forget it. We still see each other from time to time. And while it seems as though we are both too busy all the time to get together for a drink, I know in the back of my head that if I needed him, all these years later, he would be there for me in a New York minute.
HF: What makes you proud to say you're a Crusader?
CB: "The past, present and future legacy of Helias – its students."
HF: Words to live by?
CB: "Carpe Diem."
Do you know a graduate of Helias who deserves to be featured in an upcoming Alumni Spotlight? It doesn't matter whether they still live here in this community, or if they're doing big things somewhere far away. If we can reach them, we'd love to feature them. Please feel free to send us a name, contact information, and a brief description of why you feel they deserve to be recognized to firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at (573) 635-3808. We want everyone to know what our Crusaders are doing, regardless of when they graduated or where they live. If they're an example to you, they can be an example to many, and we'd love to tell their story!
To nominate someone for the Alumni Spotlight, email email@example.com.