Honoring David Blake’s memory

David Blake passed away on Nov. 1. He was the band director at Los Cerritos Middle School and taught many members of the WHS band program.

“[He was] one of the most passionate people I knew, who cared most about their job,” said Luciano Soriano ‘24. “He loved teaching.”

Many students begin band in middle school and had Blake as a teacher. Blake always encouraged and fostered a love for music in each of his students through various activities and media.

“He got me started on [music],” said Jessie Gereige ‘23. “He really developed my love and passion for music. A lot of that was the stuff he showed us. He showed us a lot of stuff, a lot of music and gave us a lot of opportunities to work with different styles and different instruments if we wanted to and that just developed my curiosity to play every instrument that I do now.”

Through music, Blake consistently encouraged students to further their potential futures in music by pushing them to pursue opportunities early on.

“He was the person who really pushed me to strive for greater things like [when] he told me to audition for the Downbeat Student Music Awards and All State [Honor Band], and it turned out pretty good,” said Soriano. “Without his motivation and push, I wouldn’t have been able to do that.”

In addition to musical achievements, Blake introduced students to the social opportunities that the band program offered.

“When I went to Los Cerritos, he asked me to join the jazz band,” said Cody Gould ‘24. “I saw all these people that were really kind, and it changed my character to be more kind and trusting. I have lifelong friends now, so that’s really nice.”

For many, he stands as a role model, imparted in the memories and virtues he has left with many of his previous students.

“His love for teaching and helping people is always there,” said Gereige. “[H]e didn’t get frustrated with us, he always helped us and he always wanted to make us better. I think that’s what lasted with me and that’s what I want to embody when I teach.”

As both a teacher and person, Blake was known to be very firm yet encouraging at the same time.

“He was very, very stoic,” said Michael Lynch, AP United States and Government Politics, AP Human Geography and Ethnic Studies teacher. “He would help anyone with anything at any time. When you got to know him, he was a big teddy bear. Very stoic on the shell, but when you got to know him, he was very loving. He loved his students, he loved teaching.”

Beyond being a teacher, Blake was also a friend to many. His kind nature remains in people’s recollections of his friendship.

“He’s very much a southern gentleman,” said Brian Peter, Director of Studio Jazz Ensemble and CVUSD Visual and Performing Arts Coordinator. “He’s from Tennessee… There’s a hospitality that’s very unique [to the South], and one thing I’ve noticed about people from the South who move to the West, or North or wherever else, is that they take that hospitality with them; it’s who they are. They don’t change just because they’re in a different environment, and with Mr. Blake, he was always that reminder of southern hospitality. His home was everybody’s home. Anything he could do for anybody to help them out, whether it was advice, whether it was to listen, whether it was to hang out and get food, he would always say yes.”

In the wake of Blake’s passing, staff, students, friends and family come together to support each other.

“It’s unfortunate that at times like this we all go back to our routines, and yet, [Mrs. Blake’s] routine will never be the same,” said Peter. “We want to take care of her, reach out, get lunch, come over and take care of her as Mr. Blake did; as a family.”

Moving forward, people still carry Blake’s legacy with them as they continue to carry the experiences and virtues he has imparted them with. 

“Even now, he inspires me to help out younger people, like how he helped out me, and push them to do greater things,” said Soriano. “A lot of times, big things may seem unachievable… but I want to be the person he was to me for other people.”