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Appleton North High School says goodbye to long time band director after 32 years in the district

Local News

APPLETON, Wis. (WFRV) – The 70th Annual Appleton Flag Day Parade will be the final event for long time Appleton North Band Director Jim Thaldorf.

“Director of Bands at Appleton North High School since it opened 26 years ago and I was at Einstein Junior High for six years before that, so 32 years at Appleton,” said Thaldorf.

The history of the Appleton North Band Program begins with Jim Thaldorf but it won’t end when he retires.

The legacy he created will live on in the new director, who is one of the many students he inspired over the last three decades.

“Being a high school band director is not the same as being a history teacher or a math teacher where the computer gives you your students and that’s who you get,” said Thaldorf. “I really believe I was fortunate enough to teach some of the best kids in school, the kids that have drive and determination.”

Thaldorf said he intended to retire in 2020 but decided that’s not how he wanted to end his teaching career, so he decided to come back for one additional year to end his career with in-person concerts and parades.

“We can get into the whole working with a Chromebook from home, how that was just so different and kids needed to be together and that’s something you can’t get from a little Chromebook,” said Thaldorf.

Beyond the music Thaldorf taught kids how to be people.

“Band teaches so much more than music,” said Thaldorf. “There’s responsibility, discipline, working with others which is something that employers are looking for all the time.”

Most importantly he prepared students to enter the real world.

“I think through music and the discipline of music I taught life,” said Thaldorf.

Moving forward he said he plans to enjoy retirement with part-time music gigs and most importantly plenty of golf.

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