This week in history we look back 10, 25 and 50 years to see what was happening in eastern Wake County. Nothing much has changed – even back then the local schools watched positive and negative change impact their students.
In 2005, KHS baseball coach Mark Buckler left to pursue another career. In 1990, East Wake High School celebrated a year as the only high school in the area after merging with Zebulon High. And 50 years ago, lightning struck a local house.
Ten years ago, Knightdale High School’s first baseball coach left for a new career.
Mark Buckler threw out the first pitch for Knightdale High baseball, but left the program playing catch-up soon after that inaugural season ended.
The era-beginning coach announced his resignation recently in order “to pursue other things,” he said – like the click of a camera instead of an aluminum bat. The photography enthusiast will also depart the faculty in favor of a Wake Forest charter school relocation next fall.
But Buckler will not return to any sidelines, unless it’s to snap a few frames.
“Some fantastic opportunities opened up for me and my family. I’m waiting to hear on some more possibilities out there,” the 13-year classroom veteran said. “I’d been looking into making a change, just not for a long time. Then some attractive chances happened.”
Athletic Director Guy Blough understands the motivation, but doesn’t underestimate the consequence. “You always hate to lose a coach, a teacher, a friend of his caliber,” he said. “But things happen. His choice is to be closer to his family. He’s comfortable with his choice. I’m good with that. He’s not going because he’s upset or anything. It’s just one of those things a daddy has to do.”
Now on Blough’s to-do list is finding a replacement. The job has already been officially posted. Though Buckler also filled a football slot last fall, that was a one-year-only assignment. “That staff is OK,” the AD added. “We just have to concentrate solely on baseball and find the best fit.”
Buckler leaves whoever his successor is with a winless record, yet with an optimistic evaluation.
“I was most proud this year of how we conducted ourselves the entire season. We played hard and had a very good attitude up to the last out of the last game,” Buckler said of his spring squad. “Whoever takes over for me will be getting a group of kids with great attitudes who love the sport. There is a very bright future here in terms of talent.”
...As he exited campus, he took a piece of the posterity with him.
“This one year was very positive for me professionally. It was nice to deal with the challenge of opening the new school,” Buckler added. “I’m personally pleased to have been a part of a new tradition – particularly the way the community of Knightdale embraced the school. It’s a very good place in a very good situation. So I wouldn’t be walking away without a very good reason.”
Like an offer – or two – he couldn’t refuse.
Twenty-five years ago, one year had passed since East Wake High School and Zebulon High School merged, and faculty and students felt the combination was successful.
It may not be a utopia, but East Wake High School is close enough to see the streetlights there.
At least, that is the impression both students and administration give when discussing the merger with Zebulon High School after one year.
Assistant Principal Don Groff said he could offer nothing but accolades about the experience.
“I feel extremely good about it,” Groff’s voice rang out in support. He contended that it has been the result of a group effort.
... “Really, truly,” Groff said , “there have been no problems this year besides the day-to-day minor ones.”
The assistant principal credits the operation to careful planning. “All the groundwork was laid a year ago,” Groff said. The extensive meetings with parents and faculty “greased the skids for a smooth merger.”
One goal the administration set from the beginning was to get the student body involved in all aspects of campus life.
Input from most of the students in an informal survey revealed a general agreement with Groff’s conclusions.
Senior Thomas Mitchell said the early days were wrought with controversy over the new school’s designated colors. “Everyone got together on that,” Mitchell said. “After that, everything has been fine.”
Fifty years ago, newspaper reporting looked very different for a tragic “act of God” in Zebulon. Instead of discussing the response by the fire department, the newspaper narrated the extensive damage and the whereabouts of the homeowners.
A terrific electrical storm, accompanied by heavy winds and rains, last Thursday afternoon caused considerable damage to the home of Pat Farmer when it was hit by lightning.
The bolt of lightning evidently struck the kitchen of the Farmer residence located on North Street. A passerby saw the fire eating away at the kitchen window and reported it to the fire department.
The kitchen equipment and cabinets were permanently damaged and paint ceiling was peeled in sheets by the flames.
Smoke damage to the house was considerable, Farmer said. He could not make any estimate of the damages.
Mr. and Mrs. Farmer were not at home at the time the bolt struck. They were at their mercantile business downtown.