The 11-year-old Bartlett girl who died over the weekend from complications following the flu was a budding performer and an involved, popular member of her community.
Jillian Zaguirre, a sixth grader at Centennial Elementary School, competed in the Bartlett Park District's version of “American Idol” since she was 9, winning in each division in which she competed. Just last month, Jillian and her mom Jessy won in the newly created category for their performance of “Gangnam Style.”
Close family friend Layla Doctor said Jillian also participated in the park district fall and spring theater productions and played the violin.
“She's a very talented girl,” Doctor said, adding that Jillian was an affectionate child who was a very good daughter and sister. Her Facebook page is complete with loving posts tagging her mom as well as her dad, Edmar. And her 8-year-old brother also goes to Centennial, a K-6 school in Elgin Area School District U-46.
John Heiderscheidt, district safety coordinator, said grief services are continuing at Centennial where school staff members took over on Wednesday. Grief and loss counselors have been on hand to help students and staff members process and cope with the information about Jillian's death since Monday.
According to Doctor, Jillian came down with a fever April 15. She was out of school all last week and complained of chest pains last Wednesday. Complications from the influenza virus reached her heart and caused two cardiac arrests, Doctor said, requiring life support and leaving the 11-year-old with very little brain activity.
Jillian died Saturday afternoon, Doctor said.
Melaney Arnold, spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Public Health, said there have been four flu-related deaths this season. Less than a week earlier another young person died from complications that also began with the flu.
In U-46, Heiderscheidt said he cannot recall another student dying after contracting the flu, including during the 2009 pandemic with the H1N1 flu strain.
Flu procedures that were put into place after the H1N1 outbreak are still there, including annual presentations in the district's elementary schools about the spread of germs and ways to prevent it. Students are taught about covering their coughs and sneezes and the importance of hand-washing.
The district also uses a cleaning solution approved by the health department on the school lunch tables and employs various attendance monitoring systems throughout flu season, Heiderscheidt said.
“The health services specialists and district safety are continuing to closely monitor any illnesses at our district schools,” Heiderscheidt said.
The DuPage County Health Department sent a letter to Centennial Elementary School families this week saying the department would continue working with U-46 but officials would not say Wednesday what strain of the flu Jillian may have had or whether they would continue investigating her illness.
Jillian's wake was Wednesday and her funeral is scheduled for Thursday. Family asked that the details not be disclosed to give friends and family members the chance to grieve without distractions.
“She's just a very jolly little girl,” Doctor said. “She loved school ... She had so many friends and was in so many groups.”Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.