LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The parents of a Seneca High School senior killed in a traffic crash last week were presented with her diploma in an emotional graduation ceremony held Thursday at Freedom Hall.

Lunden Pope, 17, died Friday from injuries she sustained in a crash the night before. According to police, she was hit by a car after she ran across Poplar Level Road against a green light. 

Wearing T-shirts adorned with their daughter's picture, along with the words "Sunshine" and "My Lu Lu" written on the back, Dana Grant and Frank Pope III were presented with Lunden's diploma from Seneca High principal Kim Morales.

As the two walked onto the stage, her classmates and others in attendance stood and clapped, many wiping away tears.

There was also a moment of silence for Lunden and two other members of the Seneca High Class of 2017 who have died in the past four years.

The other two students include Chita Chuwan, who died in a 2015 train collision, and Marissa "Skyy" Cotton, who died in 2016.

"These young people unfortunately did not have the opportunity of a long life but most certainly made an impression on the short time we were blessed to have them," Morales said during the ceremony.

Lunden had a 3.6 GPA and was a member of the school's band. 

Pope's aunt, Shirryl Pope, told WDRB News, that her niece was "growing into her own woman."

"She was brilliant and compassionate and never met a stranger," Shirryl Pope said. "She brought out the best in you."

Morales called Lunden "the kind of kid you didn't just teach, you fell in love with."

About 320 seniors from Seneca High were given diplomas on Thursday; they are among 6,344 students earning diplomas this year from Jefferson County Public Schools.

According to her obituary, Lunden's funeral will be held on Friday.


Reporter Antoinette Konz covers K-12 education for WDRB News. She can be reached at 502-585-0838 or @tkonz on Twitter.

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