Sunday, June 23, 2024

Cambridge Rindge and Latin School has experienced a second student death in 2021. (Photo: Marc Levy)

News of a high school student’s death was shared Wednesday with the Cambridge Public Schools community by superintendent Kenneth Salim.

Jenna Santos, a Cambridge Rindge and Latin School senior and former student at Putnam Avenue Upper Campus, Amigos School and the Morse School, died this week, Salim said. The death comes just a month ahead of the high school’s graduation.

The news was “heartbreaking,” Salim said.

A crowdfunding campaign set up Wednesday said Jenna died the previous day from Covid-19. She had been treated for it in a hospital since April 1. “She fought a hard fight and had her parents right by her side every moment,” said Tammy Darling, the organizer of the fundraiser. Set up for $5,000, by Thursday the campaign had already drawn $11,410 in contributions by noon.

Principal Damon Smith remembered the student in a message to the high school. “Jenna was a friendly, beloved member of our community that would engage in conversation with just about anyone in the school. She will be remembered most as a good friend with many strong connections and relationships at CRLS,” Damon said, noting her enjoyment of baking and cooking and her two years in the district’s Culinary Arts program. She participated in the Falcon Friends/Best Buddies Program, which promote the development of friendships between students with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and worked with staff in the school’s copy center as a student helper.

“Our hearts are with Jenna’s family, friends, fellow students and educators,” Smith said.

The school offered support to students and staff who needed to grieve, with Smith explaining that “we know that the loss of a member of our community can lead to a range of emotions that can be difficult to understand.”

It is the second student loss of the year – and after a year of pandemic-induced complications. On Feb. 24, the district shared the news of the death of Sina Ball, a sophomore at the high school and a graduate of Putnam Avenue Upper School. The family confirmed that she died as a result of suicide “and permitted us to share this information with the CPS community,” Salim said at the time. “Sina was well liked and well respected. Her passing is a devastating loss.”