Derek Abraham, ‘07 died in a kitesurfing accident along the Santa Cruz coast Thursday, June 14, just days after receiving his diploma. Derek, known and respected throughout the school community, will be remembered by students and staff alike.
Although he will no longer dazzle students with his musical talent, or bound across the parking lot with arms wide in preparation for a bear hug, Derek’s legacy will live beyond the days of his schoolmates, as a part of the heart of the school.
Derek was an active leader, talented student, athlete and Eagle Scout. Throughout the numerous activities he participated in at the school, Derek influenced the lives of his peers and mentors.
Derek exercised his willingness to improve and his readiness to lead in the Eagle Marching Band, headed by Ted Ferrucci. Derek rose to the top of his section and was appointed Section Leader in his senior year.
“He was very driven,” Ferrucci said. “He applied for leadership staff his sophomore year, and when he did not receive the title, he wasn’t discouraged or sad. Instead, it gave him more determination to become a better musician. All of that hard work resulted in a very effective section leader when he was later elected his senior year.”
In addition to his love for instrumental music, Derek was also a bass singer in the school’s prestigious choir group, the Main Street Singers. Derek was always willing to give his best and perform at the top of his ability.
“Derek was full of energy, with such a postive attitude,” Choir Director Mark Shaull said. “He was well-loved by his peers, and teachers liked him. He was just a very nice kid.”
Although dedicated and hardworking, Derek also believed in a laid-back, fun lifestyle. Always pulling pranks and cracking jokes, Derek and his friends brought lightheartedness to the band that had a huge impact on the success of the group.
“He taught me that it’s possible to have a lot of fun and be reckless, but at the same time be responsible and loving,” senior Tony Zhukovskiy said. “He always made sure everyone was happy and included.”
Derek was always a humorous addition to class.
“In class, I was always confiscating things and I laid out my expectations towards them if anyone became too distracted,” Ferrucci said. “But they knew their limits, and I would always go home later and laugh for hours
Senior Lane Cowan played side-by-side with Derek for three years, including when Derek was Section Leader. The two became good friends.
“He was always doing crazy things and cracking jokes,” Lane said. “He loved to hear people laugh. But the second anything serious was brought up, he would be very concerned and willing to help.
“Lane, now Drum Major for the Marching Band, conducts the band in a season dedicated to Derek. In his honor, the band t-shirts for the 2008 display the phrase “Remembering D.L.A” on their sleeves.
As a student, Derek was successful as an amateur filmmaker in his senior year Film class.
“He was always totally engaged and always energetic,” Film teacher Galen Rosenberg said .”He always had comments and suggestions about the films as well as about the class.”
As a team, Derek and one of his best friends, Tommy Yacoe ‘07, created a film that was shown in the school’s annual Film Festival at the end of their senior year. The films presented in the festival are chosen through a vote of class members; only the best are shown. Both boys were very proud of their movie.
“The boys took on a challenge and included special effects in their film … they worked hard to achieve something that turned out to be very impressive,” Rosenberg said.
In honor of Derek and his quest to improve the class, Rosenberg has altered the curriculum for his film classes. Students this year will cover one fewer chapter in the textbook, and instead will be treated to a unit focused on short films, as suggested by Derek.
Tommy, who has been friends with Derek since the first joined Boy Scouts, mourns the loss of a dear friend, who was “vital to [their] circle of unity between best friends.”
“He would always get the ball rolling,” Tommy said. “He wasn’t afraid to pick someone up and literally move them into his car. Everything was much more of an adventure when Derek was there.”