LOGAN — A remarkable sound can be heard each time the Logan High School Marching Chieftains Band steps onto the stadium ground or performs one of many concerts throughout the year. They have done so under the leadership of the longest standing band director in the history of the LHS band, Jeff North.
While this year celebrates 30 years of being a head band director for North, 28 of those years have been spent leading his alma mater at Logan High School.
North was in the Logan band himself under the leadership of Al Horsky until he graduated from LHS in 1981. From there North attended Ohio University where he received a masters degree in band-orchestra and conducting.
“I am so happy I was a student of Al Horsky,” said North.
“When I graduated high school I wanted to be a funeral director,” North said.
But then in the final year of his high school career, Horsky inspired him to take a different route in life.
In 1982 North served as the general chairman for the alumni band allowing him to work directly with Horsky.
North signed a contract at the age of 21 in 1985 at Wheelersburg High School where he served two years as the head band director.
Horsky served the LHS band from 1963 to 1983. After he retired, William Casey served as director for the 1983-1984 year, and Robin Kessler from 1984 to 1987.
Former LHS principal David McAllister called and asked North to come home to LHS and lead the band in 1987.
“I had two interviews and the rest is history,” North said.
When North was asked to share a memorable moment during his career, he recalled the reason band members’ suspenders are still inspected to this day. As told by North, during a game performance he could hear the crowd escalate. He didn’t understand why until he saw a student with his band uniform pants around his ankles. When it came time to march he lifted his feet out of those pants and never missed a beat.
“I didn’t think it was funny at the time, but now to reflect back it is comical,” North said.
During his 28-year tenure at LHS, North had several other job offers but chose to stay in Logan. “I stayed because I love it so much here,” added North. The coaches have been wonderful to work with, the administration has been very caring and the band boosters are fantastic, according to North.
“This has always been a music town,” North said.
When North took over the band there were 63 students that were members of the band. In the band for the 2014-2015 year, there are 129 students that will make music together as the LHS Marching Chieftains.
Over the years North has had many accomplishments. He oversaw the plans for two band rooms. The first band room at the Logan-Hocking Middle School and the second one when the new high school was built. The LHS band under North’s direction has qualified for state competition 25 times receiving 25 Central Ohio District superior ratings and numerous excellent ratings.
In 1999 North was the recipient of the Logan Jaycees “Outstanding Young Educator” award. North received a Citation of Excellence in the 2000 from the National Band Association. In 2003 he was inducted into the International Bandmasters, Phi Beta Mu. In 2006 the LHS Academic Hall of Fame named North as an inductee, and he previously served as the president of the board of directors for the OU School of Music Alumni Society.
The Marching Chieftains were selected to perform in the1996 National Independence parade in Washington, D.C., the 2000 St. Patrick’s Day parade in New York City, the 2004 Outback Bowl in Tampa, Florida, and two performances at Disney World under North’s continued leadership. The next trip for the Marching Chieftains is being discussed. North would only say they are looking at a national parade venue.
This year’s alumni will perform ‘Making Musical Memories,’ which is very appropriate for all of the years North has served as the head band director. In celebration of 30 years for North, local residents can expect to see the Ohio University band perform at the Alumni game at the LHS Chieftain Stadium on Aug. 29.
North said, “I am looking forward to conducting former band members.” North noted he is currently teaching students that are second-generation high school band members. Some will be performing together during the alumni celebration. “It’s going to be very exciting,” he added.
The alumni band performs every two years. North estimates 130 participants in the alumni band. “There are not very many communities that have an alumni band,” remarked North. The LHS alumni band has been a long-standing tradition since the 70s, according to North.
Those attending the football game on Aug. 29 can expect to see a performance from the Lancaster High School band, the debut performance for 2014-2015 LHS Marching Chieftains, and the OU band. A special performance is in the works where the OU band and LHS band will perform a few songs together.
“I think the kids are going to get a huge thrill out of it,” North said. Half-time is scheduled to be extended to 25 minutes.
“This is very thrilling for me. I am an LHS and OU graduate,” commented North.
North celebrates being the head band director for over 300 regular and play-off games. He has served under four superintendents, five head football coaches and their teams.
Although North never thought he would be the head band director in Logan, he is thankful he is and appreciative of each opportunity to lead.
“I love watching the kids grow from about 10-years-old to 18-years-old,” North noted. He loves the special bond with the students that develops over the years often making him feel like an additional parent to his band students.
By TERESA SALIZZONI Logan Daily News Reportertsalizzoni@logandaily.com