Ex-Douglas band director Zabelsky marching to Carson High School’s tune

Carson High School band director Bill Zabelsky conducts band camp on Monday.

Carson High School band director Bill Zabelsky conducts band camp on Monday.

A new face will be directing the bands at Carson High School this year — but it’s not an unfamiliar face.

After 28 years as the leader of the Douglas High School Fighting Tiger Marching Band, Bill Zabelsky, 59, accepted the position at Carson High School late last week. He started practicing with the Blue Thunder Marching Band on Monday.

“I’m really excited,” he said. “I’m excited for the potential at this high school. It’s just going to be wonderful.”

He will replace Jarod Sorum, who left after six years to be closer to his wife in Colorado.

“Mr. Sorum is a friend of mine,” Zabelsky said. “He left it in very good hands. I intend to take it from there and grow it.”

Although Sorum informed the administration he would be looking for a job to be with his wife, he didn’t tender his resignation until the first week of July, said Ron Beck, principal of Carson High School.

Candidates were reviewed, then interviews conducted. However, Zabelsky was out of the country on a family vacation and not available for interview until Thursday, when he was offered the job. Zabelsky sent an email Thursday evening announcing his departure to school and district officials and to Douglas High School’s entire staff. He also sent letters home to students and their parents.

Some Douglas County School District said they were taken off-guard.

Band camp for Douglas High School was postponed Monday morning, and may be put off until next Monday while school officials scramble to find a replacement.

“My disappointment is that the music students and their parents are negatively impacted,” said Douglas High School Principal Marty Swisher. “This could have been handled a lot differently.”

Zabelsky, who was named the top music teacher in the state by the Nevada Music Educators Association in May, said it was a difficult decision to leave the students. However, he said, he has been at odds with district officials for some time over cuts to music programs at all levels, and felt pressured to retire.

In Douglas County, Zabelsky was in charge of the band and choir programs at the high school and taught band at the elementary school.

In Carson City, he will be able to focus on the high school’s three bands: marching, choir and concert. He said he’s eager to continue his 34-year career in music education.

“A well-rounded education makes a person a human being,” he said. “The arts are what make people live.”

Beck said he’s pleased with the hire.

“I’m terribly sad to Jarod go,” he said. “But Mr. Zabelsky will do a great job. He has a lot of experience.”

Andrea Davis, 17, mellophone section leader for the Carson High School band, said she agreed with the choice, saying the fierce rivalry between the schools does not extend to the band.

“I think he’s actually a good replacement for Sorum,” she said. “I really think he’s going to treat the band well because he knows what he’s doing. Band is a different world than sports. We all love each other.”

Zabelsky said he has just one hesitation.

“I have to get a whole new wardrobe,” he said.

The Record-Courier Editor Kurt Hildebrand contributed to this report.


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