After 50 years conducting the Reynoldsburg High School alumni band, Dan Nawrocki has decided to pass the baton to current band director Brian Stevens.

After 50 years conducting the Reynoldsburg High School alumni band, Dan Nawrocki has decided to pass the baton to current band director Brian Stevens.

Oct. 3 will mark Nawrocki's 50th anniversary conducting the alumni band. He will guide the group through the halftime program at the high school football game one last time.

"I feel I spent 50 years doing it. It is time for the present band director, Brian Stevens, to put in his 50 years," Nawrocki said. "It's his turn to create his alumni band because mine is getting old."

Nawrocki, 74, a native of the Cleveland suburb of Garfield Heights, graduated from Ohio State University with a degree in music education in 1956 and began his career teaching music in the Amity, Ohio, school system outside of Mount Vernon. In 1959, he was asked by then-Reynoldsburg school superintendent Robert Heischman to join the district as a band director and music teacher.

Nawrocki retired from Reynoldsburg in 1986, but was asked to come back by band director Don Nathan the following year to lead the alumni band -- a job he has been doing ever since.

Since he is giving up his duties conducting the alumni band, he and his wife of 52 years, Dorothy, can do more traveling and spending time with family, he said.

They raised three children: sons Marc and Dale, and daughter Marla, who all graduated from RHS.

Nawrocki served on Reynoldsburg City Council in the 1970s with Mel Clemens, Dick Daugherty, Joanne Davidson and Nadine Kerns.

"It was a case where I lived here, I taught school here, and I think everybody needs to contribute to the city," he said. "It's very easy to sit back and criticize, and so on, so I said it's my turn to serve the city."

Nawrocki's list of musical accomplishments throughout his career include directing RHS bands that earned superior ratings at both the district and state levels for 18 consecutive years.

In 1984, the RHS band under his direction was the first in Ohio to receive the John Philip Sousa Sudler Flag of Honor Award.

In 1988, he was asked to come to The Ohio State University by band director Jon Woods to teach music part-time, supervise student teachers and fill in when professors were out on sabbatical.

Also, since 1988, in conjunction with Kings Island theme park, Nawrocki has conducted a band made up of several hundred students from up to five surrounding states at a yearly music festival held at various schools around the Cincinnati area.

When asked why he chose to spend his life teaching music and conducting bands, Nawrocki said, "Music is in my family history, back to my grandfather and father and sister."

"When I started, I was going to be a professional trumpet player, and when I got into teaching, I enjoyed very much working with kids and watching them smile and their reactions when they got a sound," he said. "I enjoyed it very much and was very fortunate to have a community and school like Reynoldsburg."

He said performing music before an audience is extremely important because it educates and entertains.

One of Nawrocki's former students, Barb Irvine Cotner, a 1978 graduate of RHS, said he made a lasting impression on her. She said she still plays flute and piccolo, gives lessons and still plays at weddings.

"He made a difference in everyone's life," she said. "I enjoyed him as a teacher because I had him for three years in a row. Musically, he always taught us and challenged us to play music better than we thought we could. He not only challenged us to play better, but to also live our lives better we were a very respectful and disciplined group."

Nawrocki said he will continue to conduct the yearly music festivals in the Cincinnati area.

He will meet with alumni band members at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 3 in the high school gymnasium for rehearsal. He said he wants to get the word out for any alumni members to come out and play that night.

Nawrocki noted between 60 to 90 former band members usually show up, some from out of state.

"But even if they don't have an instrument any more, they can come out with us and sing," he said.

The football game begins at 7:30 p.m. Nawrocki said the band traditionally performs the alma mater and the national anthem before the game, then at halftime performs his arrangement of three songs.

dowen@thisweeknews.com