April 26th, 2021

Dear Andrew School Families and Community, 

Today was a difficult day for Andrew School District Staff and Students.  We were saddened to learn of the death of one of our students.  Ilah Portz (6th grade) was in a “side by side” accident yesterday afternoon and died.  

We have invited additional counselors from surrounding districts and from the Mississippi Bend Area Education Agency to be on site and help our school community deal with this loss.  We are doing everything we can to help your child and our staff through this experience. 

You may anticipate questions about death, and may need to talk with your child at home about their feelings.  

Here are some tips for talking with your child:

  1.  Be honest and concrete: Be as straightforward as is appropriate to the developmental level of your child.  Avoid using confusing phrases such as “passed away” or “lost”.  

  2. Take things slowly:  Kids process death in bits and pieces.  They may ask one question and move on with their normal routine before asking another question.  Be sure to let them know that you and whoever else will be available to always listen and answer questions.

  3. Community Support:  Death can trigger a fear of being alone or abandonment.  Remind your child of all the family and friends who love and care for them.  

  4. Don’t be afraid to share your thoughts and feelings:  This is an opportunity to help your child navigate the grief process through modeling. 

  5. Funerals:  Give your child the choice but first provide some details of what a funeral entails. Next, let the child decide if they attend.

  6. Keep hope alive:  Despite this heartbreaking loss, it’s important to help your child focus on the positive things in their life.   One way to do this is to ask the child to list a few activities they are looking forward to in the near future.  

It’s important to know that people grieve differently.  Some might feel the need to cry, some may request more information or facts, while others want to stick to their normal routine.  It’s all okay.  Should you see any changes in your child’s behavior,  we are including some website resource links.


  1.  https://grievingstudents.org

  2. https://www.dougy.org/grief-support-resources/kids

  3. For local resources and/or private therapy, please call the school for additional information.  

If you have any questions or need additional information,  feel free to contact Demi Adrian or Brandon Kirchhoff at (563) 672-3221.

School Administration