Students at Centennial High School turned to grief counselors Friday after the sudden loss of a classmate. School district officials say 15-year-old Caleb Hannink collapsed in gym class Thursday.
Those who knew Caleb say he was outgoing, close to his family and his faith. Michaela VanBrunt, a Centennial junior, remembers the sophomore as welcoming.
"Always so energetic, like 'Hi, how are you doing and let me give you a high five even though I don't know you.' He was amazing," said VanBrunt.
And, on Friday, he was missed at his school. The school district says Caleb was in gym class around 1:00 Thursday afternoon, when he collapsed.
"Our P.E. teacher, Mrs. Roberts, gave him CPR. And, then after that the ambulance was called," said VanBrunt.
Paramedics took Caleb to Bakersfield Heart Hospital where he was pronounced dead. Family friends tell 17 News, Caleb had a heart condition, but was active and cleared for gym class. And, he was a special education student with Aspergers. Caleb was close to his family, attending church with them at Valley Baptist since he was a small child.
Church leaders sent youth ministries staff to help grief counselors at Centennial High. They were too busy helping the students suffering the loss, so we turned to Bakersfield High School counselors to see how they even begin to comfort Caleb's classmates.
"We are basically there to listen to them, just an open ear and shoulder to cry on," said Nicole Stuebbe, a BHS counselor.
"I think that a lot of those students are going to be going home with that experience embedded in their mind for a while, and they need to talk about it and get it dealt with and put away," said Linda Robertson, a BHS counselor.
Caleb's friends are organizing a candlelight vigil for him. It's this Sunday evening at 6:30 at the Park at River Walk. They hope to raise money for funeral expenses as well as remember their friend. Everyone is encouraged to bring their own candle.
Caleb was just two weeks away from celebrating his 16th birthday.