Northview Band director Gene Bohland has a commanding presence in front of his students.
Talking to a large group during a recent morning band practice, Mr. Bohland was both casual and formal -- his calm and cool demeanor just one of the many qualities that parents and students like best about him and will now miss.
This is Mr. Bohland's last year of directing at the high school.
"I love the kids. I will miss the kids," he said, adding that the retirement system in Ohio has made it so now is the best time for him to retire without losing money.
Having been head director of the band for 24 years, Mr. Bohland has many memories of fostering student success. He said when "students experience a musical moment, when they get that aesthetic experience and they really understand what that is, it's very cool."
The walls of his office are decorated with his many diplomas and citations, but he also has a few pictures and commemorative, signed frames with notes from students. He said that although he will be sad to go, he's also ready to pass along the torch to the next director.
"It's a young person's game. I'm ready for someone else to step in," said Mr. Bohland, who is in his mid-50s.
The person who will hold up the megaphone next year could be the current associate band director, Nathan Heath. The band director said he was "hopefully passing on the torch" to Mr. Heath, but Mr. Bohland's replacement has not yet been confirmed.
"I have a good mentor," Mr. Heath said. "He's been doing it a long time. I've learned a lot watching."
Mr. Bohland plans to end his years at Northview with the same expectations he has had over his tenure.
"I think I demand excellence, but at the same time, it's a very safe and comfortable environment," he said.
Several students who have worked with him this year agreed that his personality is what has made working with him successful.
"It's a great experience," sophomore Emily Luettke said. "I'm going to miss him next year. He's got a fun personality."
Junior Emily Radebaugh said Mr. Bohland's calmness has helped the students learn effectively. "It's great," she said, about working with the director. "He's cool, you know."
But there are still many months to go and many more rehearsals before his last day. Mr. Bohland said he thinks community members will be impressed when they hear the band playing at games and events this fall.
"They're going to expect to hear a big quality sound, with the students demonstrating that they have fun while they're performing," he said. "We're going to do some Disney music, because this spring, we're going to Disney and Universal Studios. We are going to be marching at the Magic Kingdom in an evening parade."
"Northview's always been known for its great marching band," he said. "We're going to continue that tradition."