The leader of Orange High School's marching band is returning to his roots.

The leader of Orange High School's marching band is returning to his roots.

Marc Zirille will return to Johnstown to direct the Big Red Band.

The Johnstown-Monroe school board approved hiring Zirille during an emergency meeting May 26.

Superintendent Dale Dickson said 45 candidates had applied for the position.

"I think he's clearly the choice for a seamless transition," Dickson said. "It's exciting. He has tremendous passion for Johnstown."

Zirille, a Pataskala resident, left Johnstown in 2008 to become director at Orange.

The 2000 graduate of Ohio University had built the Big Red Band from 60 members to 175.

In a letter to the Olentangy Pioneers Band family, Zirille shared that Joe Carver had decided to leave the Big Red Band to pursue his doctorate in music education at Ohio State University.

"This opened up a window of opportunity to go back to my home and possibly work with my wife (Angela, Adams Middle School band director) and teach my own children the subject that I love most," he wrote. "This has not been an easy decision, as I love my students and the Orange community and school with much passion."

Many Big Red Band supporters have been quick to welcome Zirille back to Johnstown via social media.

"It's a great day for the Johnstown schools and community to have you home," Marianne Bright wrote. "Go, Big Red Band."

"Welcome Back," Debbie Martin wrote. "Can't think of anyone better to continue the tradition of pride and excellence. Can't wait."

"It's going to be great having you back Mr. Z.," added Rachel Edwards.

"Strike up the band and let the wonderful music continue to flow from the Johnstown-Monroe school district bands," said Ruth Ann Booher, school board president.