Featured Alumnus: Evril Clayton, Jr. ’01
When Evril Clayton Jr. '01 arrived at Avon Old Farms School for his postgraduate year, he knew he would improve his skills and gain invaluable experience on the basketball court. What he found, however, is that AOF was crucial in his development off the court as well.
"I always attribute my success in academics and character to my time there," Evril shares. He says the rigorous schedule, along with a truly dedicated and caring faculty helped set him up for life after leaving The Farm.
For Evril, the school helped him to learn discipline, instilled in him the importance of strong moral character, and made him a part of a legendary brotherhood he still calls on today. "Those are the three most important things I took away from my time at Avon."
Of course, he enjoyed his time representing the Winged Beavers as a member of the Varsity Basketball and Varsity Track and Field teams as well, and remembers joining the "Polar Bear Club" after jumping into the frigid water at Beaver Pond during the winter.
After Avon, he matriculated to Manhattan College before transferring to SUNY Potsdam where he played on the basketball team and eventually graduated with a degree in business administration.
In the years following, Evril worked in the finance industry, including roles as a financial advisor at Merrill Lynch and senior investment analyst at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, before returning to college in 2011 for his MBA.
He enrolled at Clarkson University and was able to earn his master’s degree while working for the State of New York pension and investment office. Evril says he was happy to have the time to work while pursuing his degree, but was even happier about spending time with his growing family. “That worked out really well, and I was able to raise my family.”
That includes Evril’s oldest son, Anthony, who graduated from Avon Old Farms in 2021. He says he knew Avon would bring the best out of his son.
“I knew that he could benefit from the institution. Avon really does a good job of crafting young men.”
The Claytons’ story at Avon is just another example of the semblance of permanence that exists on Mrs. Riddle’s campus. Evril says that while there have been several updates to the facilities at AOF, including a much newer basketball court than when he played, the place feels very much the same.
“There’s still a similar feeling. There’s been some changes over the years, but it’s still the same culture.” In fact, many of the faculty members that Evril remembers learning from are still at the school, including Tim Roller, who has now served as advisor for both Evril and Anthony, and Jim Detora ’12, who has since become Head of School.
For Evril, a major element that sets Avon apart from other schools is that these faculty members are proof of both the strong traditions at the school and the undeniable dedication from the people tasked with teaching and mentoring students.
“Being able to reach out to someone you know really makes a difference. I could probably still email Detora with anything and he’d get back to me. You have some really great people there that really care.”
Another important figure for Evril, along with thousands of Avonians past and present, is Kevin Driscoll. “For me, Coach Driscoll was important during my time there. He really helped me understand what the institution tries to do, and he did the same for my son.”
Just like his father, Anthony found success following Avon. He currently attends school at Syracuse University where he is a member of the division one basketball team. “We know for a fact he wouldn’t be where he is if it weren’t for Avon,” Evril says.
The Claytons’ story may still continue on campus in the future. Evril has a nine-year-old son who he says is likely to one day join the Brotherhood.
In the meantime, Evril remains involved at AOF by serving as a mentor in the school’s A5 program, a mentoring program and support system for black students and alumni. “If I can repay the favor by talking to some of these young men, it’s the least I can do for an institution that was so important in my development.”
This past July, Evril left his role with the state of New York after 11 years to take on a new position as the Managing Director of Marketable Investments at The Rockefeller University where he helps manage their more than $3 billion endowment.