Arapahoe High School community grieves after students die by suicide

One student died Sept. 29, another on Oct. 2


Arapahoe High School staff, parents and students grieved together after two students died by suicide three days apart, Littleton Public Schools officials said. Classes were canceled Oct. 3 and resumed Oct. 4.

"There are no words to describe the grief we are experiencing," Arapahoe High School Principal Natalie Pramenko wrote in a letter to parents. "Like you, we are struggling with this loss. And while we, as adults, are grappling to understand, it’s important that we take care of our students, staff and parents."

A male student, a senior, died on Sept. 29. Another senior, a female student, died the evening of Oct. 2. Parents were informed of the deaths in letters from Pramenko.

After school was out for the day on Oct. 4, Cathy DeVoe, an Arapahoe sophomore, said the "atmosphere at school is very emotional." She added that Arapahoe is "a very supportive community."

Pramenko pointed parents to the district's list of local resources and urged them to seek assistance for themselves or their children if needed.

“Teachers, mental health professionals, and administrators are engaged with students, parents and staff today and will be in the following days, as well,” Diane Leiker, Littleton Public Schools spokeswoman, said in an emailed statement Oct. 3.

While classes were canceled Oct. 3, students were invited to spend time at school through the day for activities in the gym, movies, studying in the library and checking in with the counseling office, according to the district. Additional counselors and mental health professionals were at school for the full day.

Pramenko thanked those who came to school and spent time with friends, teachers and other adults.

"It was a difficult day, but it was good to see students, staff and parents supporting one another in such positive ways," Pramenko wrote.

Classes resumed Oct. 4 on a late-start schedule, and additional mental health professionals would be at the school that day and in coming days "for as long as we need," Pramenko wrote.

Arapahoe officials canceled the school's Oct. 5 football game against rival Cherry Creek High School. Parents were notified of the decision in an Oct. 4 letter from the athletic department.

"The Arapahoe Warrior Football team, in particular its upperclassmen, have been impacted significantly," the letter states. "In light of the current condition of our boys and with memorial services pending, the athletic department, in collaboration with the coaching staff, has made the request that this Friday’s varsity football game between Arapahoe and Cherry Creek not be played. Recognizing that there is nothing more important than the social and emotional health of kids, Cherry Creek High School has graciously agreed to forgo the game. It has been canceled and will not be rescheduled."

Arapahoe is working with mental health experts and district leadership to "make sure we are doing everything we can to reduce vulnerability and to provide the safest environment possible for our students," Pramenko wrote.

On Oct. 3, students were able to spend time where they chose and use the day for being together, students interviewed after school on Oct. 4 said. When classes resumed, some teachers took time to talk about students' feelings, they added.

Pramenko urged parents to make sure kids are "supported and not alone."

"It is important that we come together tomorrow and in the days ahead to support one another," Pramenko wrote Oct. 3. "Hug your kids and tell them you love them. Our kids need us. Now more than ever, Warriors take care of one another."



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