TPHS community remembers Pranav Nookala (10)

Sophomore Pranav Nookala died unexpectedly in his sleep on Feb. 19 with no prior diagnosis of a health condition. His mother, Srividya Nookala, recalled helping Pranav prepare for a math test and eating dinner with him the night before.
“He was perfectly normal the night when he slept, but the next day he didn’t get up,” Srividya said. “Everything was normal and I went to wake him up the next day, but he [had already died by that time].”
According to Srividya, Pranav “used to have involuntary leg movements,” but neurologists were never able to diagnose the ailment. 
A public announcement was not made, but the students in Pranav’s classes were notified. The counselors were also available for grief counseling.
Pranav’s funeral, which was performed according to Hindu rituals, was held on Feb. 24 at the Greenwood Memorial Park in Imperial Beach. Among the 400 guests were Pranav’s friends, family, and teachers, including his ninth grade English teacher Marie Black, Assistant Principal Michael Santos and Principal David Jaffe.
“[It was wonderful] to see how big of a community he grew up in and the support that this family had in dealing with this,” Jaffe said. “It was an awful [situation], but it was a beautiful service.”
With a picture of a lion on the cover, the funeral program represented Pranav’s love for nature and animals.
“Our favorite outing had always been walking on different nature trails around San Diego,” Srividya said. “Last summer we went to Oregon, where there are many national forests, which he enjoyed a lot.”
Whether it was travelling to places like Oregon, Phoenix or Sedona or watching the National Geographic channel on television, Pranav’s love for nature was apparent to his friends and family, as was his cheerful personality.
“[Pranav would go] out of his way to talk to people [and] put smiles on their faces,” Sophia LeRose (10) said. “He always had a smile on his face.”
According to Spanish teacher Leonor Youngblood, Pranav’s smile did not fade during class, and other students “really got along well with him.”
“His kindness was without any regard to anything in particular,” Youngblood said. “He was just kind and very honest. He taught with his behavior to give instead of take. He was a giving child.”
Pranav also volunteered at the Torrey Hills Book Exchange for four years, exemplifying his giving attitude, and was a student who “learned for the sake of learning” and “put his soul [into] everything he did,” according to Youngblood.
“His projects and presentations were unique, [and] I couldn’t shut him up,” Youngblood said. “He kept talking, and everybody wanted to listen … he was that kind of kid.”
During his freshman year, Pranav came to class for a presentation dressed as the Indian philosopher Adi Shankara, proudly representing his Indian background.
“I will remember him most for his warmth, his open, joyful attitude and his kindness,” Black said. “He was so genuine and present in class that he elevated the atmosphere.”
Pranav’s friend Rohith Kodukula (10) remembers him for never being “afraid to show exactly what he was feeling” or “[saying] what was on his mind.”
“He was always himself,” Kodukula said. “He taught people to not be uptight; he was always joking around.”
According to friend Aditya Guru (10), Pranav also taught people to “enjoy the moment and love everyone.”
“He was a person that had so much to give, and when he was taken from us, we had a big void left in our lives,” Youngblood said.
Youngblood had her class write goodbye letters to Pranav after she broke the news to them.
“He was the nicest boy on earth, [and he was] always happy,” Srividya said. “To be content, to be happy, to have a positive attitude — that is exactly what he taught everyone.”