Local News

Sunday, Nov 18 2012 08:16 PM

Large vigil gathers to remember Centennial sophomore

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    After a candlelight vigil for Centennial High student Caleb Hannick, two girls keep the flame burning on the top of a hill at the Park at Riverwalk Sunday night.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Hundreds gather at the Park at Riverwalk for a candlelight vigil for Centennial High student Caleb Hannick who collapsed during a P.E. class at the school Thursday, Nov. 15 and later died after being taken to Bakersfield Heart Hospital.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    McCall Miller, foreground, and Lindsy Murphy were friends of Caleb Hannick, a Centennial High student who died at a local hospital after collapsing in a P.E. class at Centennial. Hundreds of Centennial High student and others attended a candlelight vigil Sunday night for Caleb at the Park at Riverwalk.

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BY JOHN COX Californian staff writer jcox@bakersfield.com

More than a thousand friends, relatives and classmates of 15-year-old Caleb Hannink came together Sunday night to remember the Centennial High School sophomore who died after collapsing suddenly at school last week.

Centennial students spoke warmly of an ebullient boy who, despite suffering from Asperger syndrome, became an example of how to love and share life with everyone -- anyone -- around him.

At one point in Sunday's candlelight vigil at the Park at Riverwalk, Centennial history teacher Doug Culhane asked for a show of hands as to how many there "ever had a Caleb hug?"

Virtually everyone in the crowd held up their hand.

"His friendly 'Hi, I'm Caleb' at passing periods made him the friendliest student at Centennial High School," senior Chloe Carlson said before passing the microphone in a series of spoken remembrances.

Student Eric Samiripas recalled walking with friends to lunch when Caleb -- until then a stranger to the group -- ran up and joined their conversation for a while before running off.

"He came and we were best friends and that's how it was with Caleb," Samiripas said.

The senior went on to say that a change had come over Centennial since Caleb collapsed at physical education class and later died after being taken to Bakersfield Heart Hospital. "We each share in being vulnerable," he said.

"This week I think there's such a chance for healing in all of us."

Sophomore Coleman Olivas had the otherwise wounded crowd laughing as he shared how he came to befriend Caleb -- who nicknamed himself "Eagle Eye" -- and learned that he was an accomplished player of the video game Minecraft and a surprisingly adept racquetball player.

Caleb was apparently a devastating staring contest competitor as well.

"Caleb would beat me every time."

Olivas and a few others said their friend and schoolmate imparted a particular lesson that he lived daily.

"Caleb taught me how to enjoy life," Olivas said.

Caleb's physical education teacher, Jayna Chapman, described Caleb as happy, quirky and fun -- "a great, great kid."

The size of Sunday's turnout proves that, she said, but it also testifies to Centennial "as a school and a family."

A memorial service has been scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday at Valley Baptist Church.

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