2008 Santa Clara graduate Harry Lew helped coach Santa Clara students in a mixture of acrobatics, martial arts and break dancing known as tricking.
"There's no set of words to explain how grateful I am for him, he actually brought us so close together, it's almost like you can't break the bond," dance group leader Richard Young said.
The group, called That Breaking Club, gathered to pay their respects for the way Lew inspired them.
"Everyone here has been influenced by him in some way or another, whether it be through his dancing, his artistic talent, his tricking or just being the person he was, friendly with everyone," Lew's best friend Travis Trotter said.
Lew died Sunday while supporting combat operations in Afghanistan.
Students remember him for making them laugh and dance to relieve the pressures of school.
One student walked around with a montage of photos of Lew covering a notebook. Others crowded around a memorial banner to express their sadness. Some of the inscriptions left by the students on the wall are truly moving. This one, for example, says, 'It's hard to put in words how much of an inspiration you are to me. Being able to dance with you, trick with you, were the best times I've had.
The outpouring of affection keeps growing. The idea for the gathering on the athletic field started with a single posting on Facebook. Among the spectators were Lew's relatives.
"I am really proud of Harry and I'm very proud of Santa Clara High," relative May Chu said.
School officials say Lew is the first Santa Clara High graduate to die in military operations in the Middle East.
"Everyone has a special memory of Harry and they'll carry it with them and he'll live on with his memories," Trotter said.
Lew's remains have been returned to the U.S. Services are pending.