Students at the main high school in the western German town of Haltern are gathering by an ever-growing memorial of candles and flowers, weeping and hugging as they mourn the loss of 16 classmates and two teachers who died in the crash of a Germanwings flight in the French Alps.

Fourteen-year-old Lara Beer told The Associated Press Wednesday her best friend, Paula, was aboard the aircraft.

Wiping tears from her eyes, she said "I was waiting for the train that Paula was supposed to be on but the train came and Paula wasn't on it, so I went back home and that's when my parents told me Paula was dead."

School classes have been canceled but students are being encouraged to come in to talk with counselors and friends.