School and Band Orchestra Magazine named Athens Drive High band director Dr. Jerry Markoch the top band leader for N.C. in its December issue.
Markoch is currently in his 27th year of teaching and 19th year as Director of Bands at Athens Drive High.
Markoch calls the band family, and treats students and families in a way that builds loyalty and affection for the school’s band. He teaches students to seek musical excellence and to respect one another.
“I want to create a healthy musical environment in our band where students love to perform music and feel respected and valued by their peers,” Markoch said. “In order for this to occur, our repertoire must be of the highest quality and the teaching must always be done in a positive manner. It is important that we spend time learning “life lessons” as well as musical ones.”
Students and parents love Markoch and the school’s band program. Athens Drive High junior Alex Zondreman is a member of the band.
“Band is a magnet that draws me to school each and every day,” Zonderman said. “ The band is my family, and Doc inspires me. He encourages us to excel musically and to work together as a team.”
Jami Summers is an Athens Drive High band parent. “Doc has literally changed the life of my kids,” Summers said. “He knows every child in this program and gives each the confidence to accomplish things they never knew they could do. He teaches them that it’s not all about winning; it’s how you feel about yourself and your performance. He gives them a place where they know they are accepted for who they are and in today’s high schools, that is an incredible gift for them and for their parents!”
During Markoch’s tenure, the Athens Drive band program has grown to nearly 200 members and has earned significant honors, including consistent “superior” ratings at the N.C. Concert Band Festival and numerous “grand champion” and “first place” awards at local and regional marching band events. The Athens Drive Band has traveled extensively throughout the eastern United States, performing at Busch Gardens, Virginia; Hershey Park, Pennsylvania; and Walt Disney World, Florida. Students in the band have received praise for their enthusiasm, fine character and outstanding musicianship.
Band parents Laura Quackenbush and Buzz Calotta see the impact Markoch has had on their children.
“I sometimes come early to practices and hear the way Doc talks with students,” Quackenbush said. “His enthusiasm and love of music is obvious as he points out nuances in the music to his students. He encourages them to always do their best.”
“My son’s first choice for school was UNC-Chapel Hill,” Calotta said. “No one gave Michael a chance on getting accepted there—but Doc did. He not only was accepted, but also was offered a scholarship to major in music performance. As Michael will tell you, he would not have developed into the musician he is today if it weren’t for Doc.”