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Two years later, seniors share Van Vark memories


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As a staff, we decided that in honor of the two year anniversary of Blake Van Vark’s death to allow seniors to share memories that they have of Blake. Here are the responses he received.

My favorite memory of Blake was getting to go through TEC with him. He got so into everything that we did that weekend and it was awesome to get to grow in faith with him. During the skits on Saturday night, Blake’s table group did a skit about what their discussion room was like and the funny things that happened during the weekend. Blake’s group was in the nursery during discussion times and Blake created quite the bond with a parrot puppet and would use it to talk to others or just to have a conversation with himself. He also got very upset at the Kitchen team when one Kitchen member took his cup of milk from him at breakfast and drank it in front of him. Someone asked him what Jesus would do in this situation and he responded, “I don’t care what Jesus would do!” He was an amazing friend and person and even though I wasn’t super close to him, he has impacted my life still today by showing me that you aren’t guaranteed another day on this Earth so you need to live like every day was your last and Blake did that every day.   -Senior Sydney Swanson

My favorite memories of Blake were definitely from marching band. He played the tenor drums alongside me. He, along with Sierra Hrdlicka and Lucas Boyd, made marching band a complete joy. I looked forward to getting up at 6am just so I could spend time with them at rehearsal. Blake was really into Drum line, and I can only imagine how fantastic it would’ve been to have him in our final season of high school marching band. He’s definitely jammin’ out up there in the clouds. Miss you, dude.  -Senior Tristan Miedema

I didn’t know Blake too well on a personal level, but we both played baseball together. I can’t exactly pick one specific memory that sticks out to me, but what I miss the most about him were our mind games we used to play in fantasy baseball. I would purposely select all of his favorite Yankees players in the draft, and he would do the same with all of my beloved Kansas City Royals players. At the time the Yankees were one of the power houses in Major League Baseball, so this strategy often worked better for me as opposed to him selecting players from my last-place bound Royals. Blake was a smart guy, and it didn’t take him long to realize that wasn’t a good strategy, so he’d spam me with trade offers throughout the year. In good spirit, I would usually accept, only after hearing him say the words “The Kansas City Royals will always be the best team in baseball.” It may not seem like much of a memory to you, but looking back it still makes me smile today. Blake was one of the few people I could have an intelligent conversation with about baseball, and have a sense of humor to go along with it. That’s what I miss the most about him. -Senior Ethan Butler

It’s the third grade we are all up on the big grass hill at Jefferson. I had a loose tooth and we were all playing on the hill so I asked people for ideas on how to get my tooth out. So being smart third graders Blake was like I’ll just knock it out for you. I didn’t actually think he would but sure enough I turn around and BAM a knuckle sandwich to the mouth and POP out flew the tooth. Remember those little treasure box’s the nurse gave you if you lost a tooth? Well I wanted one so bad but we lost the tooth in the grass! So Blake went and rallied all the kids in recess and we searched but could not find it. That is one of my best memories of Blake when we were kids.  -Senior Alex Boots

I knew Blake from the few classes we had together. The most important and special memory I have of him was when he invited me to youth group… he was very persistent about it and wouldn’t give up! He told me the reason he wanted me to go was to get to know God better and because he played the drums. And he always used to sing the song Yonkers by Tyler the Creator. I am thankful for the fact that he led me closer to God just by simply offering for me to come to his youth group. Miss you Blake. -Senior Shaylynn Reed
Sophomore year, some of the percussionists in band were practicing an ensemble for the piece “Bound for Marakesh.” The group consisted of all the sophomore percussionists that year, including Blake. Mr. McCombs asked Blake to start of the ensemble, however instead of subtly pulsing his drumsticks in the air to give us a tempo, he hit them together loudly as if he was starting off a song for a rock band. All of us in the ensemble burst out laughing. -Carrie VandeHaar
One of my favorite memories of Blake was when a bunch of us girls were at Larissa Downs’ house sophomore year. We were going to watch a scary movie and we had told Blake and some of the other guys in our grade that was what we were going to do. Blake bombarded us with texts about when we were going to start watching it and made it pretty obvious that him and the other guys were going to try to scare us. Blake was a lot of things, but subtle was definitely not one of them! So instead of just letting them get away with it, we piled into Larissa’s car and tried to find them first. Sure enough, we found them driving a few streets down from Larissa’s. They tried to get away but we chased them down and eventually they pulled into a parking lot and we all got out and just laughed nonstop for a good twenty minutes. All the boys were wondering how we knew they were going to scare us and all of us just answered “Blake” in unison. He didn’t stop blushing after that! We talked and laughed for hours that night and I still remember it like it was yesterday. It will always be one of my favorite memories for sure. -Senior Bri Buzick
There are so many memories that come up when I think about Blake. We were just starting to become friends. Freshmen year, whenever we were at a school sporting event, we would always commentate the entire game in a different accents. It was great, even if others around us got annoyed. Or there was the time where Blake, I, and other friends went to Adventure Land. We all had a great time, we meet a couple of girls, and we all wore plastic fedoras the whole time. To Blake and I’s dismay, we had to leave early for a marching band parent preview. My favorite memory however, was of one of the last days of summer before our sophomore year. Blake texted a whole bunch of people to hang out at his house on that day. So, Sage and I went over to his house a little early just because we felt like it. As we all waited, no one else showed up. So, we had a home run derby at his house, which I think I won, but I don’t really remember. Eventually we started a bonfire and we for some reason we tried to cook fries on an open fire. It didn’t work at all, the outside burned and the inside was still frozen. As it got darker we started to sing campfire songs as Blake played his guitar, we sounded terrible, but we didn’t care. We got bored so we invited Sami and Anna over and then we played Mario Kart. It was a great day to end the summer. -Senior Cody DeKruyff

About Amy Blanton