Tucked away in the far corner of the music wing, a man shares his passion of music with his young pupils. With half of the music department resting on his shoulders, Mr. Rick Eakin still takes the time to feel the passion behind each piece he directs. He never passes up the chance to share one of his famous jokes with his students, and is rarely seen with a frown on his face.
Mr. Eakin attended The Ohio State University from 1978-1981, and transferred to Bowling Green State University in 1982.
When asked why he chose to direct here at Van Buren, Eakin stated, “I graduated here, so the chance to come home was very appealing.”
Before moving back to Van Buren in 1990, Eakin taught at Arcadia High School for 8 years, as well as Vanlue High School for 3 years.
Mr. Eakin first became passionate as a musician in his senior year of high school. The young Mr. Eakin and some of his classmates
“We made the whole thing! That was when it made sense to consider [going into music],” Mr. Eakin informed.
In his years here, Mr. Eakin has impacted the instrumental music program in a positive way. “We started doing marching band competitions when I came here. This helped the marching band members to have a common goal to strive for. Concert band also made it to state for the first time in 1997, and we have been there 8 or 9 times,” said Mr. Eakin.
Mr. Eakin shares many memories with the school. “My favorite memory is from 2009. We were headed to state contest at Ohio State University stadium. Before we left, I asked Mr. Brand if we could perform for the high school during activity period the Friday before the competition. He said yes. We were outside, and the every last one of the bleachers were being cleaned and I didn't know why until the performance. The entire school, elementary, middle school, everyone, even a few from the Van Buren community were there. I was so touched, it was a huge surprise,” Mr. Eakin explained, choking back his emotion.
His favorite part of the year is getting hard work done at band camp. He also loves gathering around at the annual bonfire held for the marching band members.
Mr. Eakin says that his favorite band show was the 2008 show, “The Mask of Zorro,” followed by the 2009 show, “Jump".
In retirement, Mr. Eakin plans to drive charter busses for the Bliss charter bus company. He also looks forward to lending a hand to his grown sons by doing handy work as he is needed. He wishes to stay involved with music, however behind the instrument for a change.
Mr. Eakin's advice to anyone looking to pick up where he leaves off is, “Have fun, challenge the band to reach even further. Their best days are in the future."
Our beloved band director's career is quickly coming to a close. After 24 years of doing what he loves here at Van Buren, students and faculty will say goodbye to Mr. Eakin.
When asked how he would like to be remembered by his students and co-workers Mr. Eakin stated, “I would like to be remembered as someone who enjoyed what he did here. I want to be remembered by how I tried to make the Van Buren community a better place in my own way.”
Congratulations, Mr. Eakin, on your many years of service. Your work will forever be engraved in the school's history, and in many black knights' hearts.
Favorite joke to tell? The story of Juan, it's a tradition with my marching band members!
What is one of your favorite songs to hear your students perform? "March Slav" by Chickoffskee. It's a great song. Also, one we performed last year, "Superstition" by Stevie Wonder.
What do you like to do when you are not at school? I like having fix-up jobs around my home. I also enjoyed painting houses for a few summers. Oh, and bread-baking; I like to cook.
Favorite instrument to play? Trombone. If I was a kid, that is the one I would have played. You can use it in almost any organization.
How did you feel directing your last band show? It was very mixed. Part of me was glad it was over, part of me wasn't. I think it's like being a senior graduating high school. It's all I've known for so long. I'm also ready for whatever comes next.
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