Nick Charvat had been directing vocal music at Lindsborg's middle and high schools only a few weeks, but he already had made quite an impression on students.
Mr. Charvat, 30, a former vocal music director at Robinson Middle School in Wichita, died unexpectedly Thursday.
"He became very popular very fast," Smoky Valley school district superintendent Glen Suppes said Friday.
That didn't surprise Shawn Chastain, executive coordinator of fine arts for the Wichita school district and a former choir director at Wichita Heights High School.
Chastain remembers when Mr. Charvat, a 1998 graduate of Salina South High School, started student teaching at Heights.
"I'll just tell you right from the beginning, he was a go-getter," Chastain said, remembering that Mr. Charvat visited the school before his student teaching assignment to get a head start.
"From day one, he was just very enthusiastic about his work," Chastain said. "He was very passionate, very energetic."
After his student teaching, Mr. Charvat "stepped into Robinson, which had a very strong tradition and he maintained the high level of musical excellence," Chastain said.
Mr. Charvat's girls choir performed in 2007 for the Kansas Music Educators Association at Century II, singing for music teachers across the state.
"That's a very high honor," Chastain said.
Colleen Richey, now a junior at Wichita East High School and involved in concert choir and the Madrigals, was part of that choir.
She had Mr. Charvat in seventh and eighth grades for mixed choir and girls choir.
"He was such a unique teacher," she said. "He had a really good way of connecting with us. He was just a funny guy, and he made choir really fun."
Chastain said students always wanted to perform well for Mr. Charvat.
"They were very focused for him," he said.
Mr. Charvat, who graduated with a music education degree from Wichita State University, participated in barbershop quartets and loved to perform himself, Chastain said.
When students in Lindsborg learned of Mr. Charvat's death, junior high football players put stickers on their helmets in his honor, and "girls tied ribbons into their shoelaces," Suppes said.
"I think some of them took it pretty hard," he said.
Mr. Charvat's wife, Lana, just started working for the district as a counselor.
On Friday night, the district planned a moment of silence during a home football game.
"We're doing the best we can to maintain things as normal as possible," Suppes said.
Auditions for the school musical "The Music Man," were to start next week. Suppes said the district is meeting about whether the show will go on.
A service will be at 10 a.m. Tuesday at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church, 1000 Burr Oak Lane in Salina.