Saturday, October 09, 1999

Principal's exit bittersweet

Enquirer Contributor

        MASON — You'll have to excuse Chuck Mason if heseemed a little emotional this week.

        His elation at being hired Wednesday as the principal at Sycamore High School has been followed by the sadness of leaving the fast-growing school — Mason High — he's led the past 10 years.

        “It's been a tough week,” Mr. Mason said Friday. “There's been a lot of hugs, a lot of tears. I feel very lucky to be here. I love this place. It's been a great experience for me.”

        The date of Mr. Mason's departure is uncertain but tentatively set for no later than Jan. 1, Sycamore officials said. He will earn $85,000 there. Mr. Mason is leaving a student body of 1,541 at the school he shared names with for a student body of 1,989.

        “It was a huge surprise,” said Marianne Culbertson, who sits on the Mason Board of Education and has a daughter at the high school. “He's been a tremendous principal for us. He will be greatly missed. We will feel his loss.”

        During his eight-year tenure as principal — he served a year as athletic director and a year as assistant principal before being named principal in 1992 — Mr. Mason has gotten to know his 101-member teaching staff well. He hired 68 of them.

        He led the school through a renovation and expansion that more than doubled its size by adding 48 classrooms, an arena and an auditorium. He's on the team that's planning for a new high school to keep up with the rapid growth.

        “Chuck Mason has accomplished a great deal in the years he has served in Mason,” said Kevin Bright, Mason's superintendent. “He has provided some wonderful leadership in helping the school move to a trimester schedule, in helping teachers with working on mean ingful work they give to students, and as a partner in the district's administrative team.”

        Though busy, Mr. Mason also found time to get to know his students.

        “I thought he was a wonderful principal. He was always there for you for whatever you needed him for,” said sophomore Mandi Stewart, 15. “He's not your typical principal. He knows everyone. A lot of kids know him as a friend.”

        Mrs. Culbertson said the board would discuss the search for a new principal when it meets Tuesday. The board is also expected to approve Mr. Mason's resignation.

        He was one of four finalists that a panel of parents, teachers, students and administrators recommended to the Sycamore Board of Education.

        “He brings a high energy level, excellent communication skills and the experience to lead such a comprehensive high school community as Sycamore,” said Sycamore Superintendent Bruce Armstrong. “We are proud to have him as part of the Sycamore team.”


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