CHIPLEY - The mood was somber at Chipley High School Friday morning as students, teachers, and staff mourned the loss of a popular CHS sophomore.
Nicholas Granberry, 16, and his mother, newly elected Wausau Town Council member Hope Genene Hicks, were killed in a fire that broke out in their home near Washington Street in downtown Wausau early Friday morning.
CHS Principal Kyle Newsom broke the news to students in a called assembly, describing Granberry an "intelligent and creative young man."
"He was a member of the CHS Concert Choir and involved in the Theatre Department," said Newsom. "Nicholas was a very quiet young man, but had found his niche on the stage. He was involved in many productions and was always the epitome of a team player with an outstanding work ethic. He had a beautiful tenor voice, and was developing those skills as well. Our students love Nick and will miss him greatly. He was our big teddy bear, and we will hold a special place in our hearts for him."
CHS brought in extra counselors from other district schools to help students deal with the loss. Several local youth pastors also visited the campus to offer support.
An impromptu memorial was placed in the auditorium with students bringing flowers and photos to pay their respects.
Junior Eryn Boname was one of Granberry's closest friends. "He was the awesomely weirdest, coolest, best person I have ever met," said Boname. "He was very close to his mom and always knew how to make someone laugh, no matter what they were going through. I have never seen him sad; he always had a smile on his face."
Granberry last posted on social media Wednesday, expressing his excitement over receiving his final grades from last semester with a screenshot from the school district's Focus system.
"The teachers finally finished putting grades in," reads the post. "Look tho - Look at the As and really High B. HOLLA."
Hicks was set to be sworn in to the Wausau Town Council when the board met in regular session on January 12. Instead, Wausau Town Council will address filling the seat left vacant by her untimely death.
Washington County Fire Coordinator Rick Kerr states says the investigation into the cause of the fire is still ongoing.