"My dad had the Thriller music video on VHS, and at first I was terrified of it cause it was a really scary video, but the music, you know, spoke to me even when I was a baby," Josh Holcomb said.
There were 650 La Guardia grads in music, dance or drama; the class of 2009 is full of Michael Jackson fans.
"I think it's amazing that an artist can have the success that he did and have his songs still be played as often as artists that are performing now," Veronica Pellitteri said.
"You know, Thriller came out so many years ago, but in fact these kids at La Guardia are very in tune to his legacy and what he left behind, and personally, I feel it's a tremendous loss," principal Kim Bruno said.
On the internet sites for social networking, so heavily used by teenagers, there has been an outpouring of thoughts about Jackson's life and death from around the world.
La Guardia students feel an even more direct connection to Jackson's music.
"His music is outstanding and he certainly had an influence on my playing," Oliver Marsh said.
"Even though he's from my generation, his music was certainly groundbreaking in the field of pop and has influenced all these young people," music teacher Lucinda Santiago said.
The students with whom we spoke agreed that Michael Jackson has set a standard for artistic achievement that will be remembered for generations to come.
NEW YORK AND TRI-STATE AREA NEWS