The only band director Pickerington High School North has ever had is stepping down after this school year but still will teach music to younger students in the district.

After serving as Pickerington High School assistant band director from 2000-03, Marc Parulekar was tapped to lead the PHS North band program when the school opened in 2003 and has stayed there ever since.

During the tenure, his bands performed in the 2003 New York City Veterans Day parade, the 2006 Tournament of Roses Parade, the 2007 and 2013 Fiesta Bowl parades, the 2007 National Band Championship and the 2018 London New Year's Day parade.

The Marching Panthers also will perform jointly with students from Pickerington High School Central in the 2019 Tournament of Roses Parade, but when they do, they'll be led by someone other than "Dr. P," as he's often called.

Last week, Parulekar informed students he's stepping down as North band director to teach beginning band in the Pickerington Local School District's middle schools.

District public-relations director David Ball said Parulekar requested the new teaching role and he'll continue to serve as the district's music coordinator.

"I'm really looking forward to working with our younger students and working to support our district music teachers," Parulekar said.

This year is Parulekar's 19th as a teacher.

He also has served as a graduate assistant director with the Ohio State University Marching Band and director of bands at West Jefferson High School.

In addition to invitations to perform on national and international stages, Parulekar's bands and students have received numerous "superior" ratings from the Ohio Music Education Association.

"My time serving as band director at Pickerington North ... has been one of the greatest experiences of my life," Parulekar said.

"I have learned so much from colleagues, administrators and parents.

"Most importantly, I have been blessed with students who love music, have a great attitude, are disciplined and willing to accept instruction.

"I am in awe of their energy, talent and intellect. Our future is in good hands."

Ball said Parulekar told administrators he believes a switch to middle school would allow him to better serve the district in his role as music coordinator, as well as to "focus on day-to-day teaching and structural components for our sixth-graders."

Parelekar's teaching salary will not change as a result of this transition. He currently makes $87,201. Next year, he is scheduled to earn $89,460 based on an additional year of experience. He will not, however, continue to receive his supplement contract stipends for directing the marhcing band and serving as the winter/spring band director. Those supplemental contracts paid $8,250 and $4,250, respectively.

Pickerington Superintendent Chris Briggs said Parulekar will provide a groundwork for music education during students' formative years.

"Marc has long been a highly regarded member of the district's teaching and music programs," Briggs said. "I cannot speak more highly of the work he has done with students, both in the classroom and on the field through development of an internationally recognized marching band program.

"With this new opportunity, Marc will continue to play a pivotal role in building the foundation of our music program, but I know his presence will be missed with the marching band."

North's next band director hasn't been named.

Asked how the district would fill the vacancy, Ball said the district has posted a job opening for a music-teacher position.

Parulekar said North's band program would continue to flourish with the next director. Her said students and parents have a "shared vision for success" and are "fully backed" by district administrators.

"I know the Pickerington North band program will continue to grow and thrive," he said. "I very much look forward to enjoying the continued success of our student musicians."