Students at Sonoma Academy in Santa Rosa talked about grief, depression and suicide Monday, their first day back at school since the body of a classmate was found in Annadel State Park.
Charlotte Ann Molinari, 15, a musician, athlete and sophomore at the private high school, was found Friday evening one week after she disappeared from her west Santa Rosa home.
The teen had ridden her bike to the east Santa Rosa state park and hanged herself.
"This is another rough day," said Janet Durgin, head of the school. "We've been very present with our students all morning long."
Counselors and therapy dogs joined the 240 students for grief counseling, support and special group sessions. Students and staff were experiencing a range of emotions, mostly shock and great sadness, said Durgin.
One student told a school official "she just felt she should be able to walk around the corner and see Charlotte," said Ellie Dwight, assistant head of school.
Poster boards and markers were available for students to write down thoughts or memories of their classmate.
Charlotte's parents, John Molinari of Santa Rosa and Colleen Fernald of Sebastopol, will be given a book of the artwork and writings.
School officials Monday also addressed the subject of teen suicide.
Counselors emphasized to students that they aren't facing the issues of their lives alone. Instead, they reminded the teens they belong to numerous communities where they can seek help.
They also told students that suicide is a complicated issue.
"We don't know what was on Charlotte's mind," said Durgin, explaining what students were told.
"News coverage of the missing teen and the subsequent tragic discovery have included that Molinari had been depressed due to a romantic rejection," she said.
The boy had been a friend who helped her through periods of previous depressions, said Durgin. But "romantic disappointment" is not adequate to address the complexities of suicide, she said.
"The only thing we can be certain of, she was stuck in the illusion there was no solution," Durgin said.
Molinari, whose parents divorced when she was 5, was also at the center of a contentious and ongoing battle over her custody, according to court documents.
John Molinari has had primary legal and physical custody of his daughter since 2002, but a year ago obtained a restraining order preventing Fernald from contacting her or coming within 100 yards of either one of them, court documents show.
Charlotte Molinari, who attended elementary and middle school in Graton and Sebastopol, was known as a quiet girl with a small group of close friends.
She started at Sonoma Academy in freshman year. She was a musical student, who sang and played the flute, recorder and ukulele.
"She was also an athlete. She played soccer and volleyball," said Durgin. "She was a very bright, very talented girl."
Staff Writer Mary Callahan contributed to this story.