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North says good-bye to his students after 30-plus years

By DEBRA TOBIN Logan Daily News Editor

May 4, 2017

Jeff North, Logan High School Director of Bands, conducted his last concert performance Tuesday night before announcing he will be retiring from his position effective after Memorial Day activities.

LOGAN — After 32 years as Director of Bands, with 30 of those spent with the Logan-Hocking School District, Jeff North has made the decision to step down and “take a rest” for a few months before he moves on to the next chapter of his life.

Although it was a tough decision to make, North told The Logan Daily News that he felt it is the right time.

“I am going to rest a few months, then get back into music,” North said passionately. “Not as a director of bands. If I wanted that huge responsibility, I would just stay at this wonderful place!”

North made the announcement during Tuesday night’s annual Spring Concert held at Logan High School. While the concert was filled with toe-tapping lively music, the mood quickly turned very emotional as he made the announcement of his retirement following the Memorial Day Parade and Memorial weekend activities.

Gasps were heard throughout the theatre and band members sobbed as North addressed the audience. After 30 years as Director of Bands, North will be putting away his “director’s baton”, however, he will never give up his love and passion for music.

“He pushed us hard and believed we could do anything,” stated Paige Dane, LHS senior band member.

“Congratulations to Mr. North on his retirement and thank you, Mr. North, for serving the children of our school district for 30 years,” remarked Monte Bainter, Superintendent Logan-Hocking Schools.

Though he won’t be leading the Logan High School Marching Chieftains onto the football field this fall, North said he will forever cherish the years he spent at LHS and will dearly miss all of his students.

“I cannot even begin to describe the impact Mr. North has had on my life,” LHS senior Abbey Jackson stated. “He has given me some of the best memories. He has also taught me lessons I will take with me the rest of my life. No one will take his place in my eyes. I will miss him greatly.”

“Mr. North has high expectations for his students and demands that they do their best while giving them the confidence and support so that they can perform their best,” added Bainter.

“As a parent of a band member and the superintendent of the school system, I knew that our kids would be put in the best situation to succeed. Jeff is going to be missed but all you have to look around at our band to see the impression that having Mr. North as our band director has left,” Bainter said.

As far as his future, North said he will keep busy as he will be judging ensembles and bands throughout Ohio, as well as helping young band directors, will offer private lessons and is anxious to get back to doing something that he loves — playing the trumpet.

“I’m so fortunate to have chosen a profession of sharing my love for music with young people,” North added.

Throughout the history of the band, North has served the longest as Director of Bands, and celebrates his career having spent 30 years leading his alma mater at Logan High School. A former band student of Al Horsky, North graduated from LHS in 1981.

It was Horsky who influenced and inspired North to choose the career path of music. Looking back now, North said he is thankful for the opportunity to have been in the band during his high school years under Horsky’s direction.

“Mr. North will be greatly missed, not only by his students but also by his colleagues and the entire community,” stated Logan-Hocking Schools Assistant Superintendent Christy Bosch. “The musical skills he has instilled in our students, along with the life lessons taught throughout his program will be his legacy!”

North’s shoes will be hard to fill as those who know him and worked with him can attest. “Jeff North’s passion for kids and leadership of our instrumental music program has been a treasure for our school district and our community,” stated Corby Leach, Logan-Hocking Board of Education. “While he will certainly be missed, his legacy will continue on for generations through the countless students and families he influenced over his career.”

John Woltz, also a Logan-Hocking Board of Education member had this to say about North — “As a parent, and more so as a lifelong citizen of Logan, and Hocking County, I can say that I remember Mr. North as a band member in the early 80s as I was a member of the junior high band.

“I feel one of our greatest community assets is our band program, and has had decades of greatness, the last three under Mr. North,” Woltz continued. I’m very happy and proud that my daughter, a junior, taught herself saxophone and tried out for band midway through her freshman year. I can only imagine the pressure for a freshman to try out in front of a legend!

“Mr. North personally complimented me about her abilities after she was accepted. My daughter has had the opportunity that few get, to be a member of an incredible organization, well led, well organized and well respected,” Woltz said.

North’s career started at the age of 21 when he signed a contract with Wheelersburg High School, where he served two years as the head band director. However, his career path brought him back to LHS when former principal David McAllister called and asked North to come home and lead the band in 1987.

“I had two interviews and as they say — the rest is history,” North told The Logan Daily News.

While he is leaving the program at the end of this school year, North said he is leaving it in excellent condition and ready for next year — the halftime/pregame music has been selected; majorette/percussion lines will be in place; schedules and busing are all in place; camp staff hired; and Fall Festival of Bands invitations have been sent.

“Right down to what days to have the air conditioner on during fall and when to line the band practice field,” North chuckled. “The next director will have a smooth transition — they will just need to maintain the program.”

He also addressed the junior members of the band, “I know you’re disappointed juniors, however, I chose this year to go because your class will be the ideal class to lead the band into the next era! Everyone, remember change brings freshness, new ideas and excitement. I can assure you, your administrators will make it a top priority to choose the best candidate for my replacement.”

North praised his students, faculty members, Band Booster members, Board members and assistant directors, Pam Price, Ben Wright, and Tom Romine.

“We’ve worked together well over these last 28 years,” stated Price. “We pretty much read each other’s minds and get things done. It’s unbelievable that this much time has passed. It seems like yesterday that we started working together. I will definitely miss him.”

“I’m lucky to have been part of a successful team,” added Wright. “We’ll miss Jeff, his integrity, devotion and professionalism and wish him well.”

Romine began working with North as a part-time assistant in 2000, thinking it would be good for him for two or three years. He said he quickly learned just how much North cared for the students and how much he respected the band staff.

“Working with Jeff, I found out how truly organized he was and how he respected the tradition of Logan High School,” Romine said. “He also demonstrated a high regard for military and veterans, which I appreciated. Jeff has always been open to new ideas when they were presented with the context of the band.

“I have learned a great deal from Jeff on so many levels and wish him the best in the future. There just isn’t enough time here to express all I wished to express. One of my biggest joys is always being able to make him laugh and not to take himself or others too seriously but still get the job done,” he concluded.

Throughout his tenure with Logan High School Band, North has more than doubled the size of the band (since 1987) while maintaining a consistent level of high quality; there were 63 students in the band in 1987, today there are 130 students in the high school band. North estimates he has taught over 1,500 students during his time at LHS.

In his 30 years as Director of Bands, North has accomplished so much including —he has presented 120 halftime shows; 30 extensive traditional/patriotic pregame shows, which have traditions such as the fast entrance and the “L” tunnel.

“We always honor our veterans with patriotic marches, music — all with drill designs — as our vets present the colors. This is a tradition I wish to see continue,” he added.

“We want the band program to continue the rich traditions that have been in place the past 50 years,” added Price. “Maybe there will be some new ideas, but the traditions established need to continue. That’s what the students, community and alumni want also.”

Other accomplishments include — the high school concert bands have received over 30 Superior ratings from the Ohio Music Educators Association judges panels; middle school over 20 Superior and Excellent ratings; the brass choirs, flute choirs, clarinet choirs, saxophone ensembles, percussion groups, brass ensembles have received hundreds of Superior ratings; the high school band received a Citation of Excellence from the National Band Association; received three proclamations from the Ohio State Legislature for maintaining excellence with the Logan bands.

He was instrumental in designing the new middle and high school band rooms and encouraged the construction of the theatre at the high school.

Under his leadership, the Parade bands performed in the 1996 National Independence Day Parade in Washington, D.C.; New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade in 2000; the 2004 Outback Bowl in Tampa, Florida; performed twice at Disney World; and the National Cherry Blossom Parade in Washington, D.C.

North graduated from Ohio University in 1985 with a bachelor of fine arts degree in music education and a master of music degree in conducting. While attending OU, he was president and vice president of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Music Fraternity, member of Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra, Jazz One and Two bands, Wind Ensemble, Trumpet Ensemble, National Dean’s List and student conductor for OU Summer Band.

He is past president of the Board of Directors of the Ohio University School of Music Society of Alumni and Friends, member of Music Educators National Conference, Ohio Music Education Association, National Band Association, past member of Logan Rotary Club, director of Sounds of the Season for 33 years, 20 years as former president of Logan Alumni Band, Inc., PI Kappa Lambda National Music Honorary, a recipient of the Citation of Excellence from the National Band Association, 2003 inductee of the International Bandmaster Fraternity, Phi Beta MU, Jaycees Outstanding Educator award, and 2006 inductee into the Logan High School Academic Hall of Fame.

In closing, North said — “I would like to close by saying how much I’m going to miss all of you. It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as your director these last three decades; most of all, this experience has brought great joy to my life. I thank you from the bottom of my heart,” he remarked.

With Tuesday night’s concert being North’s last, he said, “My last concert was truly wonderful because of the tremendous job of these young musicians! I’ll remember that last concert for the rest of my life.”

“Mr. North’s retirement is well earned, albeit bittersweet,” Woltz remarked. “He will continue to be active in music and I would be standing in line if I was in need of a trumpet lesson! I wish him Godspeed in his next chapter and thank him for this one.”

“It has truly been an honor for me to have known Mr. North for this past year,” Bainter added, also noting that the search for a new band director will begin immediately.

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