The Chaparral High School community is reeling after the death of a student over Labor Day weekend.
Kimberly Hopkins, 17, a Chaparral High School senior, was pronounced dead at 9:43 p.m. Sept. 2, and word about her passing quickly spread on social media. Dozens of friends left messages on her Facebook page expressing their disbelief over the tragedy. Some also shared fond memories of a girl who they say was a great friend.
Shyanne Sanders, Hopkins’s best friend since first grade, described her as “the sweetest girl ever” and recounted unforgettable stories, including one in which they engaged in an all-out Twinkie war. She plans to get a tattoo to commemorate her friend’s life.
“I miss her so much I can’t even bear it,” said Sanders, whose older brother was best friends with Hopkins’ older brother.
Hopkins, whom one friend described as “beautiful and bubbly,” shared photos on her Facebook profile that are alternately playful and serious. Her “likes” include things typical for a teen girl, such as Harry Potter, chocolate chip cookies and pop music.
Saman Ahmadi, a senior at Chaparral, first met Hopkins when he moved to Parker two years ago. He had his first class with Hopkins and she was the first to speak to him.
“She was incredibly friendly and welcomed me to the school,” he said. “She was upbeat and always smiling.”
Sanders agreed, saying Hopkins’ smile was a constant presence. She and Hopkins remained best friends even after Sanders moved away.
Chaparral High School principal Greg Gotchey sent a letter to parents Sept. 3 and encouraged them to support their children as they express “sadness, grief, and confusion” in different ways. He said school counselors and mental health professionals are available to help the students through the grief process.
“Expect that resolving the feelings related to this tragedy may take your student quite a while,” Gotchey said in the letter.
Coroner Lora Thomas confirmed that Hopkins took her own life, and is the first Douglas County teen to do so in 2013.
“We’re just heartbroken for the family,” Thomas said.
Forty-two adults have committed suicide in the county this year, compared to 44 in 2012. Parker police said they are still in the process of conducting a death investigation.
Ahmadi is among those who were “shocked” by the sudden loss. A few close friends lamented the idea that they might have missed signs of trouble, with one saying on Facebook that she wishes there was “something we all could have done to prevent this.”
The 17-year-old’s uncle, Patrick Kresle, issued a statement on behalf of the family, saying, “Kimberly’s mom, Carrie, would like to thank everyone for their wonderful and kind thoughts. Kim’s life has impacted so many people, and she was loved so very deeply. Her entire family is still in deep shock over her loss.”
Hundreds of mourners attended a “service celebrating Kimberly's life” Sept. 9 at Parker United Methodist Church.