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KCS sends off Buckwell with awards, parade

KANNAPOLIS — Outgoing Superintendent Chip Buckwell received a send-off Wednesday from local leaders and community members.

Chip Buckwell will retire from the district at the end of this month after a long career as an educator. The district invited some community members out to celebrate in the courtyard of A.L. Brown High School and lined up some special recognitions.

Kannapolis Mayor Darrel Hinnant said Buckwell has been involved in the community and Kannapolis City Schools for a long time.

“I can’t imagine anybody who knows it any better from all angles and all directions than Chip,” Hinnant told Buckwell while addressing the crowd. “You have been a force.”

Buckwell has spent 35 of his 38 years in education with KCS. Hinnant recognized Buckwell by issuing a proclamation that June 30 of this year, the day Buckwell retires, will be Dr. Chip Buckwell day.

Cabarrus County NAACP President Amos McClorey presented Buckwell with the organization’s President’s Award. McClorey said the award is given only once per year, and has only been awarded to three educators.

“Truly, truly he has given his life to education,” McClorey said.

Every speaker skipped Buckwell’s title when speaking about him. Several noted he has always been “Chip” to them.

“We call you Chip as well, but I think that’s part of what makes you special and part of what makes you who you are,” KCS Board Chair Todd Adams said.

Adams said Buckwell’s door is open to everyone, and he has done almost every job in public education — from teacher to in-school suspension coordinator to principal. Buckwell was first hired by the district as a teacher and physical trainer.

Adams said Buckwell surrounded himself with good people as well and is leaving the district in good hands. Last week the board tapped Kevin Garay, the assistant superintendent, to take Buckwell’s position.

Buckwell received honors from elected officials as well. The N.C. General Assembly sent congratulations and a state flag flown over the state capitol in May courtesy of State Sen. Carl Ford.

U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson sent District Director Georgia Lozier to present a recognition. Hudson delivered a speech on the floor of Congress on Tuesday recognizing Buckwell. Lozier said the district tagline “Wonders Never Cease” is now in the congressional record.

Kannapolis Police Chief Terry Spry recognized Buckwell and there were also representatives from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and the G.W. Carver Alumni Association.

The last person to speak was the man himself. Buckwell told the crowd he could not say enough thanks and was surprised at how composed he was.

“Nobody gets to do what I have been able to enjoy without great relationships,” Buckwell said. “It’s about relationships that we do everything in this world.”

Buckwell said he hopes all the relationships the district built over the decades continue because the kids deserve the benefits of them.

The program was followed by a parade of staff, the A.L. Brown marching band, JROTC cadets and a tailgate party featuring Appalachian State merchandise. Buckwell is a proud Appalachian alumnus.

The entire program was a surprise to Buckwell. He knew some kind of recognition was planned for the afternoon, but he wasn’t sure of the extent of the festivities.

Buckwell’s last class of seniors graduated on Saturday. He said the program left him feeling humbled and excited for what the district will do after he leaves.

“I feel lucky to have this many people think that we did a good job,” Buckwell said.

Buckwell said his last month on the job will involve regular work the district does June. Summer school programs will begin next week. Summer camps are coming up as well.

After retirement, Buckwell plans to stay in Kannapolis.

“I’m not going anywhere,” Buckwell said. Kannapolis is my home.”

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