Everybody loves a parade, but not everyone has directed bands in over 50 of them.
U-46 Visual Performing Arts Academy band director Pat Henning, who is retiring at the end of this school year, has certainly directed his share of parades, half-time shows and countless concerts and graduations.
Henning initially taught at Larkin for eight years before taking a teaching position in Florida. But then he returned to Larkin nearly two decades ago.
"The grass is not always greener on the other side," says Henning who will end his career at Larkin later this spring.
"I was a little bit restless in the very beginning when I first came to Larkin High School. What has made it really refreshing for me is the academy program," Henning says. "It changes almost every year so there is always something a little bit different."
"The most important thing that I have found in my career is developing a rapport with students. It has been extremely rewarding to see their response to how we respond to each other." Henning tells his students it's not just about them or him. "We have to be able to work together to make something," he says.
Having started his career in the '80s, Henning plans to continue directing after his retirement. Only this time, he will be directing tours for other schools traveling to places like Walt Disney World Resort where he traveled many times with the Larkin band. "It's a new chapter," says Henning.
"There are many elements that I will miss," he says. "Getting bands ready, the thrill of being able to perform, but especially the rapport with students. Watching them grow, and where they are at when they hit their senior year."
"I have had some really fantastic times and some fantastic kids. I have very mixed emotions, but I am excited to be moving on," he says.
Henning's last concert will be May 10 at Larkin High School in Elgin.