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posted: 4/30/2012 5:02 PM

Carpentersville school mourns first-grader's death

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  • Brianna Renteria

    Brianna Renteria
    Courtesy of Barrington Unit District 220

  • Brianna Renteria

    Brianna Renteria
    Courtesy of Barrington Unit District 220


A first-grade student at Sunny Hill Elementary School in Carpentersville was mourned at funeral services Monday, a week after her death from a sudden illness that has not yet been fully identified.

Students, faculty and parents are honoring 7-year-old Brianna Renteria by dedicating a new reading garden at the school in her memory.

"She was such a lovely little girl with such a smiling, beautiful spirit," Sunny Hill Principal Irma Bates said Monday. "It is such a tremendous shock to the community."

In a letter addressed to school staff Monday, Barrington Unit District 220 Superintendent Tom Leonard said there are no indications of a viral illness at the school and no evidence faculty, students or parents should have any fears of a communicable disease. A letter from Bates to Sunny Hill parents states nothing has been identified that requires special precautions or preventive treatment.

The district and Kane County Health Department are advising families to maintain the usual precautions against illness, such as covering one's cough, washing hands and keeping children home from school when they are sick.

Bates said parents at the school aren't panicking.

Kane County Health Department spokesman Tom Schleuter said there have been no other unusual illnesses or absences reported at the school. He added that the flu, as a communicable disease, usually doesn't occur in isolation as has seemed to be the case with Brianna's illness.

"This is a terribly sad situation," Schleuter said. "So far there's no concrete answers as to what caused her death."

Barrington Unit District 220 spokesman Jeff Arnett said Brianna had been out of class since April 20. Her illness worsened that weekend, leading to her being taken to Sherman Hospital in Elgin, where she died April 23.

In the week since, the school received grant funding from the local community organization Teens for Teens to create a reading garden that will be dedicated to Brianna. Bates said a landscaping firm has donated the materials necessary for the garden.

Students have had access to grief counselors since the news of Brianna's death last week, but staff have tried to keep the school days as normal as possible, Bates said.

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