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'Survivor' season to feature eastern N.C. native Ron Clark

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Ron Clark on the premiere of "Survivor: Edge of Extinction." Tonight's season-opening episode is titled "It Smells Like Success."


The Daily Reflector

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Chocowinity native Ron Clark has survived teaching in Harlem and running his own school in Atlanta. Now he'll have a chance to test his endurance skills on CBS' “Survivor.”

Clark, an East Carolina University graduate, is among 18 cast members on “Survivor: Edge of Extinction,” which premiers at 8 p.m. today. At 46, the best-selling author and award-winning teacher is among the oldest of the 18 competitors on the Emmy Award winning reality show, now in its 38th competition season.

“I still can’t believe I had the honor to do this!” Clark said on social media. “(I am) amazed, humbled and grateful!”

“Survivor” host and Executive Producer Jeff Probst said Clark, a member of the “Kama” tribe, is in for a challenge.

“He's got to be in control of his alliance,” Probst said in a promotional video released by the network. “If he's in your alliance and he's not in control, he's going to annoy you. But if he uses that skill as a teacher to form an alliance that he can be the boss of, he can be deadly.”

Clark, who began his teaching career in Aurora, is a longtime reality TV fan. He sometimes incorporates elements of programs such as “The Amazing Race” into his lessons at the Ron Clark Academy, a nonprofit middle school he founded in 2007.

Clark has watched “Survivor” since its debut in 2000. Although he is self-deprecating regarding his lack of athleticism, he believes his familiarity with the competition will be an advantage.

“I have passion, and I'm aggressive and I go for it,” he said in an interview with CBS. “I don't want to have regrets. I'm willing to do whatever it takes in the moment to be successful.”

“Survivor: Edge of Extinction” will feature a new twist in the competition for $1 million.

"After being voted out, players will be faced with a decision to either go home or go to the Edge of Extinction where they will be pushed further than ever before for a chance to get back in the game,” Probst said in a statement.

Duke University pre-med student Keith Sowell, 19, is the youngest competitor in a season that also includes a firefighter, an attorney, a new anchor, a waitress and a business owner. The season includes 14 new castaways and four returnees: Joe Anglim, Aubry Bracco, Kelley Wentworth and David Wright.